Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Dilution of Scholarly Works
One of Emerson's main points is that a true scholar does not become a scholar by merely reading books and studying past philosophers (except in rare cases, as he says at one point). One must think for oneself and come up with new doctrine. To justify this argument he explains how the first scholar viewed his surroundings and recorded it. In relation to to following doctrines Emerson says, "In proportion to the completeness of the distillation, so will the purity and imperishableness of the product be" (4). I first took this to mean that scholarly works and information get diluted as it's reinterpreted and rewritten by new scholars. However, the last sentences in this paragraph confused my understanding. Emerson concludes the paragraph by saying, "Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this" (4). This seemed to mean that as time goes on theory and information change books and doctrines must be updated. I'm not sure if I am taking these sentences too literally or not. Perhaps you guys can clear this up for me.