Friday, December 4, 2009

Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle was born on December 4, 1795, in Ecclefechen, Scotland. Carlyle began his career as a math teacher, and later became a historian, satyrical writer and essayist. One of his best known quips is his labeling of economics as "the dismal science". He developed an interest in the philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Ficthe and German Idealism, which followed from the work of Immanuel Kant, and led to Georg Hegel.

One concept that Carlyle accepted from his absorption in German philosophy was the idea of the great man; the heroic leader. He published his "On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History" in 1841; a study of several heroic leaders, including, among others- Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell, Odin, and Sir Walter Scott. The following is from this work:

"Of Rousseau's literary talents...not genuinely poetical...Look at a Shakespeare, at a Goethe, even at a Walter Scott! He who has once seen into this, has seen the difference of the True from the Sham-True, and will discriminate them ever afterwards."

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