Milton Konvitz American Ideals Lectures

Publication Date


Streaming Media


Professor Konvitz explores Emerson’s critique of history, its impact on human lives in the present, and its relation as a continuum in the evolution of man’s understanding of universal moral principles. Man makes his own history, asserts Emerson. Rather than being fixed and permanent, history evolves in response to man’s interest and selectivity. History is only that part of the past that is usable to us and the rest has no significance. Therefore, Emerson is critical of those whose lives are governed by the past and suggests that it is necessary to live in the present, using the past only to enhance the experiences of the present. Professor Konvitz develops these themes by extensive quotations and examples. He then explores Emerson’s view that just as there are laws in the natural world or the physical realm, there are also laws that must work in the moral realm, that, when discovered, move mankind forward.

Playback Time