“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Emerson on Philosophical Inebriation

From lecture 7- “Inspiration,” given on March 7, 1871:

“Happy beyond the common lot if he learn the secret, that besides the energy of his conscious intellect, his intellect is capable of new energy by abandonment to a higher influence; or, besides his privacy of power as an individual man, there is a great Public Power on which he can draw–by only letting himself go–by a certain abandonment to it–shall I say, by unlocking at all risks his human doors, and suffering the inundation of the ethereal tides to roll and circulate through him. This ecstasy the old philosophers called an inebriation, and said, that Intellect by its relation to what is prior to Intellect is a god.

Our philosophy is to wait. We have retreated in patience, transferring our oft-shattered hope how often to a larger and remoter good. We meant well, but were continually forced to postpone our best action, and that which was life to do, could only be smuggled into odd moments of the months and year. But we learn to say at last, Dear God, the life of man is not by man,–it is consentaneous and far-related: it came with the sun and nature; it is crescive and vegetative, and it is with us as it is with the sun and the grass. We obey the beautiful necessity. The powers that man wants will be supplied, as man is supplied, and the philosophy of waiting is sustained by all the oracles of the universe.”







One response to “Emerson on Philosophical Inebriation”

  1. Gary Smith Avatar

    Be silent, and sit down, for you are drunk, and this is the edge of the roof.

    Rumi (Arberry 45)

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