Ralph Waldo Emerson: Debt to Pay First

Posted by admin on Friday, May 26, 2017

Ralph Waldo Emerson Money Quote saying whether the rich or poor deserve more timely payment of debt owed is determined by character of borrower. Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
 
Which debt must I pay first, the debt to the rich, or the debt to the poor? the debt of money or the debt of thought to mankind, of genius to nature? Quote
 

“Which debt must I pay first, the debt to the rich, or the debt to the poor? the debt of money or the debt of thought to mankind, of genius to nature?” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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In this quote, Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to be posing a rhetorical question about priorities and obligations. By asking whether one should pay their “debt to the rich” or “debt to the poor” first, or settle the “debt of money” versus the “debt of thought to mankind, of genius to nature”, Emerson appears to be suggesting that people must thoughtfully consider which commitments deserve precedence.

The quote implies that financial debts to the wealthy may conflict with duties to assist those in need, or that monetary obligations could undermine contributions to society through one’s intellect, skills or creativity.

Overall, Emerson seems to be conveying that life often presents competing claims on individuals that require discernment about which responsibilities are most essential or aligned with higher purpose and principles given limited resources and capacity. The question prompts reflection on what truly matters rather than a definitive answer.

Birthday: May 25, 1803 – Death: April 27, 1882

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