Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 30: A Gentleman According To Emerson (Vol. 5, pp. 199-208)

Compared to the clarity of Confucius, Emerson is obtuse and a bit foppish in today's reading, an attempt to set down the precepts of what makes a gentleman.

But he does have a point when he writes that "The gentleman is a man of truth, lord of his own actions, and expressing that lordship in his behavior, not in any manner dependent and servile either on persons, or opinions, or possessions."

This certainly follows along with Confucius' ideas, but I don't believe, as Emerson does, that gentlemen are a combination of a code of fashion and manner of behavior that's generally agreed upon by the elite.

Although Emerson believes that "in politics and in trade, bruisers and pirates are of better promise than talkers and clerks," I don't necessarily agree that force is a prerequisite for success. All in all, this piece is not prime Emerson, and has a Victorian fustiness about it.

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