The Impractical Philosophies of Self-reliance and Civil Disobedience
The philosophies of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson would work well in a society comprised only of highly intellectual, healthy individuals who were willing put forth the effort needed to thoroughly examine themselves and formulate their own opinions about every issue pertaining to them. Emerson said that all members of society should think for themselves and formulate their own opinions rather than conforming to a popular belief. Thoreau said that the best government was no government, and that people should always do what was just. A society that functioned under the ideals of Emerson and Thoreau would have no problems. No money would be needed, because all members of society would do what was right and help each other out. A farmer would give away his grain and in return would receive everything he needed from other members of society. No crimes would be committed because people would think through what they were about to do and realize that a better option existed. Realistically, such a society is not possible because humans constantly make mistakes, and since these ideals rest on the notion that all members of society will adhere to them, the philosophies are not practical. Because humans could never fully adhere to them, the philosophies of Emerson and Thoreau will never be adopted in society.
The philosophy of Thoreau hinges on the acceptance and truth of the philosophy of Emerson, and the philosophy of Emerson is ruined if the philosophy of Thoreau cannot be followed. Emerson preached that all men should trust their own hearts, and that what they thought was good and true. "To believe your own thought, to believe that ...
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...s as the checks and balances for human neglect.
People have two distinct natural tendencies. At heart, they tend to be good, but in action they tend to be bad. People know the difference between right and wrong, but usually do not act on this knowledge. They tend to act too quickly, to give in to their desire for more money and more power, thinking that these will bring them happiness. People usually fail to understand that true happiness lies in doing the right thing.
Self-reliance and civil disobedience go hand in hand. If all people are self-reliant, then they can function with no government at all. But if one man is not self-reliant and acts against his good nature, government is needed and thus self-reliance cannot fully function. In a perfect society, these ideals would work wonders. In flawed society they will accomplish nothing.
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