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Idealism in Nature - Ralph Waldo Emerson - 1903

4. Intellectual science has been observed to beget invariably the doubt of existence of matter. Turgot said, "One that has never doubted existence of matter, may be assured one has no aptitude for metaphysical inquiries." It fastens attention upon immortal necessary uncreated natures, that is, upon Ideas; and in their presence, we feel outward circumstances is a dream and a shade. Whilst we wait in this Olympus of gods,* we think of nature as an appendix to the soul. We ascend into their region, and know these are thoughts of Supreme Being. "These are they who were set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever Earth was. He who prepared the heavens, they were there; when he established clouds above, when he strengthened the fountains of deep, then they were by him, as one brought up with him. Of them took he counsel." **

Their influence is proportionate. As objects of science, they are accessible to few men. Yet all men are capable of being raised by piety or passion, into their region. None touches these divine natures without becoming, in some degree, oneself divine. Like a new soul, they renew the body. We become physically nimble and lightsome; we tread on air, life is no longer irksome, and we think it will never be so. No one fears age or misfortune of death, in their serene company, for one is transported out of district of change. Whilst we behold unveiled the nature of Justice and Truth, we learn differences between absolute and conditional or relative. We apprehend the absolute. As it were, for the first time, we exist. We become immortal, for we learn time and space are relations of matter; that, with a perception of truth, or a virtuous will, they have no affinity.


*In Greek mythology, the home of the gods.

**Compare the Bible, Proverbs 8:23-30


Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Barns & Noble Classics, 1903-4,Chapter 6, page 38




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