Although Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau shared similar views and beliefs relating to Transcendentalism, the approach each author took in writing and making the ideas that were so important concrete was not alw...
Emerson chose a line of inquiry that had been used before, by the Stoics, among others. In order to find answers to the question of how one should live, one should turn not to God, not to the state, not to society or to history for a starting point, but to nature. Man is part of nature, but by virtue of consciousness, he is also, and at the same time, apart from nature. Consciousness is subject: nature or world is object. They are separate, but as the German philosopher Schelling insisted, consciousness or spirit is subjective nature, nature is objective spirit. The opening chapters of describe the different things nature furnishes to consciousness. Passing quickly through "Commodity," in which nature is shown to be useful to human beings in all sorts of material ways, Emerson comes, in chapter three, to "Beauty," in which he argues that our aesthetics are derived from nature. "Primary forms" such as the sky, the mountain, the tree, the animal "give us a delight ." Nature is a sea of beautiful forms and the standard of beauty, our conception of beauty in the largest sense, is, says Emerson, "the entire circuit of natural forms,-the totality of nature." Cooperating with nature and complementing it as the source of beauty is the human eye, which is, says Emerson, "the best of artists." Emerson's approach to aesthetics is intensely visual, and this visual quality is so closely tied to his emphasis on subjectivity and his affirmation of the importance of individual vision that a recent writer, , equates Emerson's "I" with "eye" and "aye." Typically, too, Emerson is careful to explain that beauty is not simply a matter of beautiful pictures or pleasing landscapes. A higher though similar beauty marks noble human actions. From beautiful pictures we advance to consider beautiful (that is, virtuous) actions. Here, too, nature is the norm. "Every natural action is graceful."
Self reliance and the oversoul essays by ralph waldo emerson
Early in his life, Emerson followed in the footsteps of his father and became minister, but this ended in 1832 when he felt he could no longer serve as a minister in good conscience.
Emerson was one of the first to start the Transcendental Club.
The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God." -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836) In his essay, "Nature", Ralph Waldo Emerson describes man's relationship to nature and to God....
Emerson used logical arguments on what he believed was the truth.
A second address, commonly referred to as the"Address at Divinity College," delivered in July 1838 to thegraduating class of Cambridge Divinity College, arousedconsiderable controversy because it attacked formal religion andargued for self-reliance and intuitive spiritualexperience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) - Guide to …
At the end of August, as part of the commencement ceremonies for the Harvard class that included , Emerson delivered to the Phi Beta Kappa Society an address on the American scholar. Often hailed in 's phrase as our "intellectual declaration of independence," did indeed suggest that "our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a close." He insisted that "we have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe." But the address is not primarily, or even strongly, nationalistic. Emerson calls for the self-reliance of the individual, of whatever nationality. "The American Scholar," as the Phi Beta Kappa oration is popularly known, is one of Emerson's most successful, most effective literary statements. It sparkles with good writing, and it leans strongly on common sense and on the ethical and practical aspects of literary activity. He defines "scholar" broadly to include everyone we would class as student or intellectual, but Emerson goes further, trying to identify that aspect of any and all persons which engages in thought. The scholar is "Man Thinking" (as the address was retitled in 1844), which he sharply distinguishes from the specialist, the "mere thinker," who is no longer a whole person.