Benjamin Franklin And Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

Benjamin Franklin And Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

Length: 1163 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson want people to realize and develop potential within them. Even though both Franklin and Emerson advocate the notion of self-realization, they come up with different ideas about success, and have various attitudes toward people who are not successful in their perspectives.
Instead of believing “their foot shall slide in due time” (Edwards, 209), Franklin and Emerson view individuals as empires full of potential rather than lives managed by God. Franklin seldom goes to public worship, because “their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens.” (Franklin, 580) Yet, he still gives money to some churches because he thinks the churches will use the money to do good, not because God lead him to do so. Compared to the view of Jonathan Edward, a God-centered society believer, that coming to God is the only way of doing good, illustrated by “That the reason why they are not fallen already, …, is only that God’s appointed time is not come.” (Edwards, 210); Franklin has separate concepts for a good believer and a good person. This differentiation illustrates that the extent of being loyal to God is not the only criteria of judging the morality anymore. In addition, Franklin’s act of doing separate worship suggests that people can have opinions as individuals other than consent with the church all the time. As for Emerson, “when he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men’s transcripts of their readings.” (Emerson, 540) Emerson thinks people can directly talk to God and form their own understandings of the Bible. Emerson’s opponent attitude toward reading “other men’s transcript” (Emerson, 540) with his perspective on books“Books are the best ...


... middle of paper ...


...themselves carefully and bring up brand new and great thoughts to contribute to the world, he has no compassion toward poor people. If each individual has ability to be self-reliant, and then the only reason why poor people are poor is that they do not even try to manage their destiny. Therefore, unlike Franklin, Emerson questions “Are they my poor?” (Emerson, 552) to blame poor people.
Destiny is not arranged by God anymore in Franklin and Emerson’s view, so that develop individual self’s desire of exploring their potentials becomes necessary to succeed. Withholding various definitions of success, Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson coincidentally stick with the same principle: everyone can succeed if he or she works hard enough. They have controversies over what is success, but the spirit of upward mobility exits in both of the authors and the time periods.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Transcendental Movement Of Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

- The idea of Individualism can be traced all the way back to England before America’s existence. As we know, individualism has been interpreted in many forms throughout history. The 19th century is no different, taking hold of its own idea of individualism, called transcendentalism. Transcendentalism suggests freedom should not be confined to those focused on money and superficial gains. Instead, people should depend on no one but themselves. This movement focused on “greater individualism against conformity” (Corbett et al.)....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism]

Better Essays
853 words (2.4 pages)

Transcendentalism: Ralph waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau Essay

- Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote it and Henry David Thoreau lived it. Transcendentalism was a religious and philosophical movement developed approximately in the 1820s and 1830s. It began in the northeastern part of the United States. According to Paul Reuben, the movement began as a protest against spirituality and the intellectualism brought from England to the United States (Reuben). The movement’s core beliefs can be inferred in a single line, infixed good found in nature and people. They fought against the only two big institutions that influenced society in that time, the government and religion; which were said to pervert individuals....   [tags: Nature, Romanticism, Utilitarianism]

Better Essays
1141 words (3.3 pages)

The Importance of Non-conformity and Independent Beliefs in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance

- In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance,” Emerson calls for each person in society to be wholly true to themselves. He claims that it is most rewarding to the individual and the society for people to believe in one’s own thoughts and not in the thoughts of others. Emerson believes that conformity will ultimately lead to an individual’s demise because by living for others, people are not being true to themselves. Therefore in order to have a well-formed society, citizens should focus inward and have confidence in their own ideas before beginning to look towards other individuals; moreover, Emerson calls individuals not only in “Self-Reliance,” but also in numerous essays to act independently...   [tags: Self-Reliance Essays]

Better Essays
2766 words (7.9 pages)

Analysis Of The Poem ' Walden Pond ' Essay

- Henry David Thoreau was a writer who kept a detailing of his life at Walden Pond, entitled “Walden”. He recorded his limited interactions with others and his own achievement of becoming one with nature. Thoreau recognized the beauty in nature and how it is linked with a spiritual need. He used various mythology references when describing nature. This led me to infer that he saw nature as that of a god or perhaps having divine characteristics. One of his lines that most stands out to me about this is where he says “the morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted”....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Concord]

Better Essays
999 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on The Theories Of Ralph Waldo Emerson

- A group of logical thinkers called the American Transcendentalists existed in the time lasting only roughly 20-30 years from the 1830s to the 1860’s, but the ideas of these philosophers in this particular era proved to be extremely unique. They focused on answering questions of the unknown and providing a deeper understanding of man and the universe. The Transcendentalist theories and ideas might have made a valid point in the 1800’s and actually made sense to follow through with and understand, however this concept does not seem to have a stable place in the world today....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism]

Better Essays
1351 words (3.9 pages)

Ralph Waldo Emerson And Transcendentalism Essay

- Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston in 1803. He was a son of Unitarian minister and the descendant of New England clergymen. This led him to become a minister himself and later quit to focus on his philosophy called transcendentalism. Emerson started writing in his youth and later attended Harvard University. After graduating from Harvard in 1821 he taught in a women school. The book of Anthology of American Literature says, “Like his philosophy, his writing seemed to lack organization, but it swarmed with epigrams and memorable passages” (939)....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism]

Better Essays
2180 words (6.2 pages)

Essay about Transcendentalism, By Ralph Waldo Emerson

- Transcendentalism is a major concept that originated in New England from 1836 to 1855. It is the idea that people have knowledge about themselves that rises above or goes beyond the five senses. The man credited with leading this revolutionary movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was born in Boston, and used his experience at Harvard and as a Unitarian Reverend to help start this revolution. He eventually would come to the conclusion that the individual is more morally just than religion. He started this shift with his book Nature, which he published in 1836....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism]

Better Essays
1089 words (3.1 pages)

The Writings Of Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

- Ralph Waldo Emerson was a 19th century poet and philosopher, who wrote several essays and poems throughout his career(1). Emerson was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College. In 1826, he became a minister, and later in 1829 was ordained to a Unitarian church. That same year [1829] he married his wife, who died of tuberculosis just three years later. Emerson found himself in an immense state of grief and ended up stepping down from his clergy status. (1) In 1832, Emerson spent time in Europe with literary scholars, developing the ideas and notions of spirituality that are found in his compilation of essays titled Nature....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism, Concord]

Better Essays
770 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on God, Or Gods, By Ralph Waldo Emerson

- Religion is generally viewed as a common belief shared by a group of people. These groups then create dogmas and doctrines that are to be followed and perceived as true. From the doctrines rituals and rites form leading to a sense of unity through initiation. Once a person is initiated they are granted membership into the religion and are given a sense of belonging. The sense of being part of a bigger picture is a commonality found in all humans. The usual uniting factor that binds people to a religion is the belief in the same higher being, usually called God, or Gods....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism]

Better Essays
1002 words (2.9 pages)

Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

- Ralph Waldo Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25, 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts. 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. He experienced doubts about the Christian church and its doctrine. These reservations were temporarily alleviated by his brief association with Unitarianism, but soon Emerson became discontent with even their decidedly liberal interpretation of Christianity....   [tags: People Ralph Waldo Emerson Biography Essays]

Better Essays
1317 words (3.8 pages)