Emerson Essay Self-Reliance

Emerson Essay Self-Reliance-35
The student’s version, an interactive worksheet that can be e-mailed, contains all of the above Ralph Waldo Emerson died in 1882, but he is still very much with us.When you hear people assert their individualism, perhaps in rejecting help from the government or anyone else, you hear the voice of Emerson.Thus we can be assured that what is true in our private hearts is, as Emerson asserts, “true for all men.”* But how can we tell if our intuitions come from the “aboriginal Self” and are, therefore, true? Emerson says we must have the self-trust to believe that they do and follow them as if they do.

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The second, well-suited for individual or small group work, presents some of his more famous aphorisms as tweets from Dr.

Ralph, a nineteenth-century self-help guru, and asks students to interpret and paraphrase them.

He contends that there is within each of us an “aboriginal Self,” a first or ground-floor self beyond which there is no other.

In “Self-Reliance” he defines it in mystical terms as the “deep force” through which we “share the life by which things exist.” It is “the fountain of action and thought,” the source of our spontaneous intuitions.

Taking direction from ancient Greek philosophy and European thinking, a small group of New England intellectuals embraced the idea that men and women did not need churches to connect with divinity and that nature, far from being without spiritual meaning, was, in fact, a realm of symbols that pointed to divine truths.

According to these preachers and writers, we could connect with divinity and understand those symbols — that is to say, or rise above the material world — simply by accepting our own intuitions about God, nature, and experience.

The third invites students to consider whether they would embrace Dr. It explores paragraph 7, the most well-developed in the essay and the only one that shows Emerson interacting with other people to any substantial degree.

The exercise is designed to raise questions about the implications of Emersonian self-reliance for one’s relations with others, including family, friends, and the broader society.

While they influence us today, Emerson’s ideas grew out of a specific time and place, which spawned a philosophical movement called Transcendentalism.

“Self-Reliance” asserts a central belief in that philosophy: truth lies in our spontaneous, involuntary intuitions.


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