Emerson on Intellect

May 29, 2017

Before Pycon, I visited Powell’s City of Books and stumbled into the fiction aisle of D through H authors. I sampled some good books by Dostoyevsky, Dumas, and Hemingway but a particular passage stuck in my memory:

Every human being has a choice between truth and repose. Take which you please, you cannot have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates. He in whom the love of repose predominates will accept the first creed, the first philosophy, the first political party he meets– most likely his father’s. He gets rest, commodity, and reputation; but he shuts the door on truth. He in whom a love of truth predominates will keep himself aloof from all moorings and afloat. He will abstain from dogmatism and recognize all the opposite negations between which, as walls, his being is swung. He submits to the inconvenience of suspense and imperfect opinion but he is a candidate for truth, as the other is not, and respects the highest law of being.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Essays: First Series Essay XI Intellect