Emerson and Economics by Alexander Kerns Essay

Emerson and Economics by Alexander Kerns Essay

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In Alexander Kern’s “Emerson and Economics,” Kern draws attention to the economical aspects found in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s texts. Specifically, Kern discusses the lack of attention that Emerson’s economical notions receive. Emerson is not associated with being an economist writer, but Kern draws attention to how “he so frequently touched the subject than an understanding of his economic ideas is a prerequisite to the evaluation of his entire thought on any relative or absolute scale” (Kern 678). Kern’s theory that readers must extract the economics out of Emerson in order to comprehend his texts is extremely useful because it sheds insight on the difficult problem of viewing Emerson as an economist, yet he views Emerson as a moral philosopher because of the author’s views towards society. Alexander Kern’s call to view Emerson as an economist is yet to be answered. Moreover, it is crucial to evaluate Emerson as an economist in order to analyze his texts differently. Consequently, using economics to evaluate Emerson’s “Self Reliance” in a new way will show it is meant to be a call for social reformation. More specifically, by considering the economic panic of 1837 and its effects on Emerson’s views towards society, a new way to interpret “Self Reliance” is achieved.
Firstly, it is important to understand the economic panic of 1837 in order to then understand how it influenced Emerson. Basically, U.S industries depended on British funding in order to finance cotton, the leading export of that time. The crisis emerged when the British investments produced a “land boom” (Roberts 363) in the West. When British investors retracted their funding, economic activity collapsed and American banks failed in maintaining the economy going. The...


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..., my findings lead it to concern anyone who wants to read “Self Reliance” with a new perspective.






Works Cited
Kern, Alexander. “Emerson and Economics” New England Quarterly. 1 Jan. 1940. Proquest. Web. 25 Apr. 2014
Major, William and Bryan Sinche. “Giving Emerson the Boot.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 17 Jan 2010. Proquest. Web. 27 Apr. 2014
Porte, Joel and Saundra Morris. The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Cambridge University Press. 24-27. Google Scholar. Web. 26 Apr. 2014
Roberts, Alasdair. “America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837.” Political Science Quarterly. 1 June 2013. 363-364. Proquest. Web. 25 Apr. 2014
Schweikart, Larry. “Brothers in Chains: Ralph Waldo Emerson and George Fitzhugh’s Thoughts on Economic and Political Liberty.” N.d. Proquest. Proquest. Web. 27 Apr. 2014

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