Ralph Waldo Emerson: American Transcendentalism


ralph Waldo Emerson: American Transcendentalism

living he never abandons. Graduating in the middle of his class, Emerson taught in his brother William's school until 1825 when he entered the Divinity School at Harvard. Like the Danish philosopher. Emerson concurred with the German poet and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that originality was essentially a matter of reassembling elements drawn from other sources. His aunt's influence waned as he developed away from her strict orthodoxy, but her relentless intellectual energy and combative individualism left a permanent stamp on Emerson as a thinker. In 1844, Emerson also purchased the land on the shore of Walden Pond where he was to allow the naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau to build a cabin the following year. This world could be known only through the senses rather than through thought and intuition; it determined men physically and psychologically; and yet it made them victims of circumstance, beings whose superfluous mental powers were incapable of truly ascertaining reality. In The Conduct of Life, Emerson describes "concentration or bringing to bear all of one's powers on a single object, as the "chief prudence." Likewise, Napoleon's shrewdness consisted in allowing events to take their natural course and become representative of the forces of his time.

The Conduct of Life uncovers the same consideration only now scarlet Letter and the Pair of Eyes understood in terms of work or vocation. Man is at the center, and the center will hold: "There is no chance, and no anarchy, in the universe.". From Goethe, Emerson also drew the notion of bildung, or development, calling it the central purpose of human existence. He dismissed religious institutions and the divinity of Jesus as failures in mans attempt to encounter deity directly through the moral principle or through an intuited sentiment of virtue. New York: Library of America, 1983. "There is a higher work for Art than the arts he argues in the essay "Art and that work is the full creative expression of human being. Emerson's emphasis on self-reliance and nonconformity, his championing of an authentic American literature, his insistence on each individual's original relation to God, and finally his relentless optimism, that "life is a boundless privilege remain his chief legacies. In his lifetime, Ralph Waldo Emerson became the most widely known man of letters in America, establishing himself as a prolific poet, essayist, popular lecturer, and an advocate of social reforms who was nevertheless suspicious of reform and reformers. Emerson brought out his, essays: First Series, in 1841, which contain perhaps his single most influential work, "Self-Reliance." Emerson's style as an essayist, not unlike the form of his public lectures, operates best at the level of the individual sentence. Emerson spent the final years of his life peacefully but without full use of his faculties. Minneola, NY: Dover Press, 1995. Compelled by financial necessity to undertake a career on the lecture circuit, Emerson began lecturing in earnest in 1839 and kept a demanding public schedule until 1872.

ralph Waldo Emerson: American Transcendentalism

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