Ralph Emerson American Scholar Essay

Ralph Emerson American Scholar Essay-6
The topic had broad and deep relevance to his own condition, for he had resigned his formal ministry in 1832 to set out upon his career as a lecturer and author.Leaving the security, the certainty, and the traditions of the Unitarian ministry for the untried world of public and secular discourse gave Emerson ample impetus to ponder his new vocation.Its occasion was the annual Phi Beta Kappa Society lecture at the Harvard College commencement on 31 August 1837, and Emerson was drafted to speak after the society's original choice, an Episcopalian minister named Jonathan Wainwright, declined.

“Books are the best things, well used; abused, among the worst.”297 Books were originally intended for good.“The mind now thinks; now acts; and each fit reproduces the other…he has always the resource to live.Ralph Waldo Emerson's (1803–1882) famous essay, which has come to be regarded, in Oliver Wendell Holmes's phrase, as "America's intellectual declaration of independence," almost did not happen.To many it seemed that the very fabric of society and the economy itself were at risk.Emerson himself regarded the depression as proof of the folly of America's single-minded pursuit of wealth and material success.As the oration takes up the problem of the place of learning and the role of the scholar/writer in American life, "The Divinity School Address," delivered the following year to a much more hostile reception at Harvard, critiques the failures of religion—specifically the errors of Christianity as reflected in the beliefs of New England Unitarianism.And "Self-Reliance," published in 1841, wrestles with the central problem of life for Emerson: the oppositional relationship that exists between society and the individual and the necessity that the individual base his or her life on the promptings of spirit.This effort by Emerson to address specific social and cultural problems existed in the context of a general sense, shared by many intellectuals, that major reforms were called for in social relations, in institutions, in people themselves.When Emerson had called in 1836, in Nature, for people to cease "grop[ing] among the dry bones of the past" and to "demand our own works and laws and worship" (p.Emerson uses nature as a comparison to the human mind where he states, “There is never a beginning, there is never an end to the inexplicable continuity of this web of God, but always circular power returning into itself.”296 The human mind is an object that is boundless and can be full of so much beauty and intellect such as nature can be.Emerson continues to explain how classification begins among the young minds.


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