Unreal Nature

August 25, 2017

Who Nerves Their Energies

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:35 am

… he who rouses in others the activities that must issue in discovery, who awakes men from their indifference …

This is from the essay ‘Thomas Carlyle‘ by George Eliot, found in The Oxford Book of Essays edited by John Gross (1991):

It has been well said that the highest aim in education is analogous to the highest aim in mathematics, namely, to obtain not results but powers, not particular solutions, but the means by which endless solutions may be wrought. He is the most effective at producing that mental condition which renders acquirements easy, and leads to their useful application; who does not seek to make his pupils moral by enjoining particular courses of action, but by bringing into activity the feelings and sympathies that must issue in noble action.

[line break added] On the same ground it may be said that the most effective writer is not he who announces a particular discovery, who convinces men of a particular conclusion, who demonstrates that this measure is right and that measure wrong; but he who rouses in others the activities that must issue in discovery, who awakes men from their indifference to the right and the wrong, who nerves their energies to seek for the truth and live up to it at whatever cost. The influence of such a writer is dynamic.

… The character of [Carlyle’s] influence is best seen in the fact that many of the men who have the least agreement with his opinion are those to whom the reading of Sartor Resartus was an epoch in the history of their minds.

… You may meet a man whose wisdom seems unimpeachable, since you find him entirely in agreement with yourself; but this oracular man of unexceptionable opinions has a green eye, a wiry hand, and altogether a Wesen, or demeanor, that makes the world look blank to you, and whose unexceptionable opinions become a bore; while another man who deals in what you cannot but think ‘dangerous paradoxes,’ warms your heart by the pressure of his hand, and looks out on the world with so clear and loving an eye, that nature seems to reflect the light of his glance upon your own feeling. So it was with Carlyle.

-Julie

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