Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/148

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

and poetry. Emerson had no more academical training than his followers, and, in one sense, was certainly not a 'great philosopher.' If 'philosophy' means such a logical system as was worked out by Kant or Hegel, he was not a philosopher at all. He positively disliked such philosophies. 'Who,' he asked, 'has not looked into a metaphysical book? And what sensible man ever looked twice?' You may collate and distil all the systems, he declared, and you will get nothing by it. We have as yet nothing but 'tendency and indication.' Systems are merely the outside husk, worthless except as a temporary embodiment of the essential truth. Emerson, that is, is a denizen of the region where philosophy is not differentiated from poetry. 'I am,' he said, 'in all my theory, ethics, and politics, a poet'; and he ridicules the impression that his 'transcendentalism ' was, as some people fancied, 'a known and fixed element, like salt or meal'—a rigid and definite creed. All the argument and all the wisdom, he declares, is not in the treatise on metaphysics, 'but in the sonnet or the play.' Transcendentalism, indeed, had its philosophical affinities: it represented idealism as against materialism; or, as Emerson occasionally puts it,