It is a mischievous notion that we are come late into nature; that the world was finished a long time ago. As the world was plastic and fluid in the hands of God, so it is ever to so much of his attributes as we bring to it. To ignorance and sin, it is flint. They adapt to themselves to it as they may; but in proportion as a man has anything in him divine, the firmament flows before him and takes his signet and form.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "The American Scholar," repr. In Emerson: Essays and Lectures, ed. Joel Porte (1983).
This summarizes Emerson's theory of knowledge, owing much to Kant's theory of mental categories, but also anticipating the 20th-century religious philosopher Owen Barfield, who argues that in acts of perception, we co-create the world with the Divine.