A Grand and Epiphanious Gesture Towards The Mystery of Mathematics

or, “A Collection of Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson”

(epiphany not guaranteed)

“The mathematics, ’tis complained, leave the mind where they find it: so do all sciences; and so do all events and actions.”
-RWE, Montaigne; or, the Skeptic


where the mathematics left my mind, i’ll probably never know. here’s one about Plato:

“Plato, a master of mathematics, studious of all natural laws and causes, feels these, as second causes, to be no theories of the world but bare inventories and lists. To the study of nature he therefore prefixes the dogma,- “Let us declare the cause which led the Supreme Ordainer to produce and compose the universe. He was good; and he who is good has no kind of envy. Exempt from envy, he wished that all things should be as much as possible like himself. Whosoever, taught by wise men, shall admit this as the prime cause of the origin and foundation of the world, will be in the truth.”*(9) “All things are for the sake of the good, and it is the cause of every thing beautiful.” This dogma animates and impersonates his philosophy.”
– RWE, Plato; or, the Philosopher


anyone wondering about the five platonic solids, click here

“Go, speed the stars of Thought
On to their shining goals; —
The sower scatters broad his seed,
The wheat thou strew’st be souls.”


oh wait, not that one

“With a geometry of sunbeams, the soul lays the foundations of nature.”
– RWE, 11. Intellect


on Plutarch:

“Plutarch is uniformly true to this centre. He had not lost his wonder. He is a pronounced idealist, who does not hesitate to say, like another Berkeley. ” Mattel is itself privation ; ” and again, ” The Sun is the cause that all men are ignorant of Apollo, by sense with- drawing the rational intellect from that which is to that which appears.” He thinks that ” souls are naturally endowed with the faculty of prediction ;
he delights iii memory, with its miraculous power of resisting time. He thinks that ” Alexander invaded Persia with greater assistance from Aristotle than from his father Philip.” He thinks that he who has ideas of his own is a bad judge of another man’s, it being true that the Eleans would be the most proper judges of the Olympic games, were no Eleans gamesters.” He says of Socrates, that he endeavored to bring reason and things together, and make truth consist with sober sense. He wonders with Plato at that nail of pain and pleasure which fastens the body to the mind. The mathematics give him unspeakable pleasure, but he chiefly liked that proportion which teaches us to account that which is just, equal ; and not that which is equal, just.”
– RWE, Plutarch


i am not sure those typos can be attributed to emerson.

“A moody child and wildly wise
Pursued the game with joyful eyes,
Which chose, like meteors, their way,
And rived the dark with private ray:
They overleapt the horizon’s edge,
Searched with Apollo’s privilege;
Through man, and woman, and sea, and star,
Saw the dance of nature forward far;
Through worlds, and races, and terms, and times,
Saw musical order, and pairing rhymes.”


this first one is about a kid in school:

” Somewhat he sees in forms or hears in music or apprehends in mathematics, or believes practicable in mechanics or possible in political society, which no one else sees or hears or believes. ”
– RWE, Education


you know, i am not sure that is even a real sentence.

“The poet sees wholes and avoids analysis; the metaphysician, dealing as it were with the mathematics of the mind, puts himself out of the way of the inspiration; loses that which is the miracle and creates the worship.”
– RWE, The Natural History of Intellect

(courtesy of RWE.org)

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