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Is the mind divided - what 'parts' should I exercise more? Am I unaware of factors that influence my thinking? How is intellect growing? I need spontaneity more than reasoning? What kind and how hard is the task of thinking? Only the Genius is creative? Should I specialize, or rather strive after wholeness? Whose judgement of my work should I care about?
Emerson: The difference between persons is not in wisdom but in art
From: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, XI: Intellect
EVERY substance is negatively electric to that which stands above it in the chemical tables, positively to that which stands below it. Water dissolves wood and stone and salt; air dissolves water; electric fire dissolves air, but the intellect dissolves fire, gravity, laws, method, and the subtlest unnamed relations of nature in its resistless menstruum. Intellect lies behind genius, which is intellect constructive. Intellect is the simple power anterior to all action or construction. Gladly would I unfold in calm degrees a natural history of the intellect, but what man has yet been able to mark the steps and boundaries of that transparent essence?
The first questions are always to be asked, and the wisest doctor is graveled by the inquisitiveness of a child. How can we speak of the action of the mind under any divisions, as, of its knowledge, of its ethics, of its works, and so forth, since it melts will into perception, knowledge into act? Each becomes the other. Itself alone is. Its vision is not like the vision of the eye, but is union with the things known.
Intellect and intellection signify, to the common ear, consideration of abstract truth. The consideration of time and place, of you and me, of profit and hurt, tyrannize over most men's minds. Intellect separates the fact considered from you, from all local and personal reference, and discerns it as if it existed for its own sake. Heraclitus looked upon the affections as dense and colored mists. In the fog of good and evil affections it is hard for man to walk forward in a straight line. Intellect is void of affection, and sees an object as it stands in the light of science, cool and disengaged. The intellect goes out of the individual, floats over its own personality, and regards it as a fact, and not as I and mine. He who is immersed in what concerns person or place cannot see the problem of existence. This the intellect always ponders. Nature shows all things formed and bound. The intellect pierces the form, overleaps the wall, detects intrinsic likeness between remote things, and reduces all things into a few principles.
Cf. Rilke, Letter to a Young Poet | Plato, Whom are we talking to? | Kierkegaard, My work as an author | Emerson, Self-knowledge | Gibson - McRury, Discovering one's face | Emerson, We differ in art, not in wisdom | Emerson, Art and History | Joyce, Portrait of the Artist