Emerson And SelfReliance


Emerson And Self-Reliance Essay, Research Paper

Ralph Emerson wrote many journals and essays dealing with the subject of

transcendentalism. One of his most famous works is the essay

?Self-Reliance.? In ?Self-Reliance,? Emerson hit on the idea that the

individual should be completely reliant on God, and that every person has been

put into their certain life and position by God and that the person needs to

trust themselves. He said that God has put the power to handle things, think,

and act into each individual and that the individual needs to trust what God has

put inside them to do things with their lives. The idea is almost that of

predestination, except for the fact that we have the choice of which road to

take. Predestination is the idea that a higher power, or God, has planned

everything that will happen to a person in their life. Emerson?s idea is that

God has put the choice to us, but he has given us all of our unique gifts for

the paths we can choose to take. In ?Self-Reliance,? Emerson wrote, ?Trust

thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine

providence has found for you, the society of your contempararies, the connection

of events? (Runes 362). Emerson also gave the idea of trusting ourselves

through God. He said that you have to trust in God to tell you what to do and

what to think. He said that if you do this that God will provide answers (363).

Another quote from his popular essay, ?Self-Reliance,? supports this. ?And

we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent

destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing

before a revolution, but guides, redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almighty

effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark? (363). Emerson also had the idea

that we need to be ourselves, especially in the things that we say. Again from

the popular essay, ?Self-Reliance,? he spoke about how we need to say what

we think one day, and then speak what is on your mind the next day, even if you

completely contradict what you said in the first day. Then he said that people

will definitely not understand you if this happens (365). That goes along with

the whole idea above about how transcendentalism was widely misunderstood

because even the great minds that thought it up don?t fully understand

everything about the philosophy. Emerson concludes this thought to say that,

?To be great is to be misunderstood? (365). Emerson is obviously the father

of transcendentalism, and his great ideas were conveyed in his brilliant essays,

journals, and poems. He helped pass the philosophy on to other philosophers and

writers. One of these writers is Thoreau. Thoreau studied under Emerson and also

wrote many pieces dealing with the subject of transcendentalism. One of his most

popular pieces of writing about transcendentalism is ?Walden.?

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