"To believe your own thought, to believe that which is true for you in your private heart is true for all men-that is genius" (Self-Reliance and Other Essays, 19). This statement from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson provides a summary of the ideas that transcendentalism centered around. Emerson believed that man is innately good, and that if he were left to his own devices without the structures of society and laws boxing him in, he would create a utopian society very different from the one Emerson lived in. Emerson's ideas make sense in many situations where the influence of society drowns out the voices of individuals, such as African Americans before the Civil Rights movement, or intimidates others so that they never speak, as happens to many witnesses afraid for their own safety. However, I believe that he takes the application of self-reliance too far. In "Self-Reliance," Emerson applies his ideas to religion, stating that men should find their own creed, not conform to another one that has been made for them. "We must go alone," he says, not seeking the help or influence of others, but formulating our own ideas (Self-Reliance and Other Essays, 30). At this point I disagree with Emerson. I believe that it is arrogant and self-righteous to try and form your own creed and own ideas while ignoring the influence of others. Although self-reliance may have a place in our lives, it does not encompass every aspect of them. In religion, conforming to a creed and listening to what others have to say has helped me to open my mind, not close it as Emerson suggests.
Emerson believed that to seek help and suggestions in your spiritual life was to pollute it. In "Self-Reliance," he writ...
... middle of paper ...
...listening to a preacher is to shut out new ideas that could be important. Assuming that one knows enough and that he needs no teachings in the ways of God is a self-admiring egotistical attitude. Every man can always learn more about his spiritual life.
Emerson's ideas on self-reliance have many applications in life. However, religion is not one of these applications. In religion, it is healthy for man to conform to a certain creed because it leads him to questions and ideas that he may never have asked. It does not close people as Emerson says, but directs them to look deeper into themselves. Man is not innately good as Emerson suggests. Since the Fall when Adam and Eve ate the Forbidden Fruit, man has had a sinful nature. Therefore people need guidance, not just their own ideas to lead them. Men should heed the advice of others, not only listen to themselves.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Observations on Self-Reliance "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles ." This quotation forms the closing two lines of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self Reliance". I am greatly enlightened by his ideas in this article. "Trust thyself" was his advice and many Americans listened. They not only listened in Emerson's lifetime, but his individualistic concepts have reverberated up to the present time. After reading the ideas expressed in "Self-Reliance", I have come to believe that self-reliance is the most important factor in my life.... [tags: Emerson's Self Reliance Essays]
1503 words (4.3 pages)
- Trust yourself, your intuition, and your nature. According to Emerson's Self-Reliance, these qualities are essential to contentment and harmony with one's self. Self-reliance is an appeal to the individual to obey his instincts and to challenge tradition and conventional wisdom. According to Emerson, those who are truly self-reliant have the ability to mark their place in history as great and genuinely creative men. Emerson urges the reader to live by his instinct and listen to his intuition, "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." Don’t fear your original thoughts, trust them and live accordingly.... [tags: Self Reliance Essays]
617 words (1.8 pages)
- It is impossible to live a whole life without the help of others. Everyone starts out relying on their parents to feed them, take care of them, and teach them. However, as people grow older, they learn to look after themselves and be independent of others. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance”, he tells us that once people are able to be independent, they should be an individual who believes in themselves and does not conform to society. In American culture today, there are people who go with the flow and do what everyone else does.... [tags: independent, self-reliance, society]
996 words (2.8 pages)
- Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self Reliance" Ralph Waldo Emerson believes he writes quite the persuading argument in 'Self-Reliance.' Wielding his pen as if it were Excalibur, he vies to stimulate and challenge the down-trodden mind in his classic work on the American Spirit. His lines are affecting, romantic, and hypnotic, especially at the first reading; his thoughts on the page beget inspiration for the reader. 'Self-Reliance' has its value in its boldness, its construction, and mature attitudes toward consistency and failure.... [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson Reliance Essays]
1425 words (4.1 pages)
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous essayist of the Romantic Era, helped to lead the transcendentalist movement with his essays describing individualism: “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” and “Each and All.” “Self-Reliance,” specifically, portrays the idea of the transcendentalist movement through breaking away from the norms of society, for one must make his own decisions. Emerson explains that people should not rely on knowledge provided by others; instead, they should make their decisions based on personal experiences and thoughts.... [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism, Belief]
703 words (2 pages)
- It is not a crime to want to be like other people, to fit in with the popular kids, to be accepted into society with all its glory, or is it. One of America’s most influential writer and thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson – in his essay, Self-Reliance - has a unique opinion on the idea of one’s desire to model another’s respectable actions. He believes that all people should look into themselves and follow their own heart instead of trying to be like everyone else. Emerson’s well thought out figurative language, innovative rhetorical strategies, and remarkable style helps him show the people his individualistic approach.... [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Individualism, Idea]
701 words (2 pages)
- 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]
2766 words (7.9 pages)
- Self-Reliance - Is Complete Self-Reliance Possible. If you are self-reliant then you don’t need to depend on anyone. That is the obvious message that Emerson is trying to convey in his essay "Self-Reliance". It seems as though Emerson believes that we all need to be individuals and put ourselves before anyone else. However, the real question is “is it possible to be totally self-reliant”. After re-reading Self-Reliance I feel as though this question really can’t be answered. Emerson gives us a very confusing argument that seems to run around in circles with no apparent end in sight.... [tags: Emerson's Self Reliance Essays]
939 words (2.7 pages)
- Self Reliance - Society never advances "Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. ... For every thing that is given something is taken." Emerson, "Self Reliance", p 169 I agree with this statement, and it frustrates me to no end. Our country is screwed up in every direction one looks. People are starving while others have too much money to spend. Our population is out of control. We pollute to no end. Ours is one of the best countries in the world.... [tags: Self Reliance Essays]
390 words (1.1 pages)
- After reading both “Self Reliance,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” by Frederick Douglass, one might notice a trend in what both writers regard as the key to happiness or self-fulfillment. Emerson and Douglass both imply that acquiring knowledge is what people should strive for throughout their lives. However, their perceptions on the kind of knowledge should be attained is where their ideas diverge; Emerson is the one that encourages one to develop the soul whereas with Douglass, it is the mind.... [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson Frederick Douglass]
1310 words (3.7 pages)