Transcendentalism Essay on Ralph W. Emerson

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Nature initially defines the universe as composed of two essential components: 'Nature and the Soul.' Interestingly, [Emerson] forges on briefly in the singular and the plural, suggesting that 'all is not separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the NOT ME, that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, NATURE.' He does not attempt to define the soul at this juncture: it remains the reader's responsibility to parse this term as the essay progresses. (Leise, 476)

This further emphasizes that Emerson purposefully wrote Nature, not merely a book full of loose thoughts. However, more of something to read, where you fill in the loose ends, and you take more away about yourself than about Emerson, which is why he can be so tricky to read; you have to know yourself to understand Emerson. 'To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most people do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of a child.' (Emerson, Nature) The rationalism of Emerson was all permeated with the sentiment. We must continually refer from philosophy to mysticism, from understanding to reason, from spiritualism to science, to overcome the inconsistencies found in Emerso's discussion of philosophical problems. Therefore, rationalism allowed rationality to interest matters relating to the heart, and Emerson was aware of society.

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In Emerson's Transcendentalism William Giard, writes that Emerson was not a true Transcendentalist because 'of his platonic cast of mine, his egotism, and indifference to practical reforms and reformers.' (Michaud, 73) Emerson wanted to find a philosophical foundation for the people of his time, a mere spiritual yearning. To feel and preach the divine element's presence in the soul and nature is not enough for Emerson. He wants to prove it from what he calls the analogies between the ideal and the real, based on universal symbolism and monism. Although Emerson had a platonic cast of mind, it did more for Transcendentalism than having a positive, negative, or even narrow state of mind. In Nature, Emerson writes in a chapter titled Commodity, 'All the parts incessantly work into each other's hands for the profit of man. The wind sows the seed; the sun evaporates the sea; the wind blows the vapor to the field; the ice, on the other side of the planet, condenses rain on this; the rain feeds the plant; the plant feeds the animal, and thus the endless circulations of the divine charity nourish man.' (Emerson, Commodity) These excerpts are common in Emerson's writing. He purposefully is ambiguous and aloof in his writing, and he adds no real feelings in his writing other than his appreciation of nature. Emerson is known for his philosophical ideas and his ability to leave gaping holes and confusing ideas in his writing. Emerson can write the most in what he does not write. His most impactful writing is when he has a platonic cast of mind. This allows the reader to interpret their own beliefs and values; Emerson may write a lot about what he sees. However, he also adds just enough philosophical ideas that leave the reader thinking more about what the reader believes in than what Emerson believes in. It's cunning how Emerson can guide the readers to fill in the gaps with their thoughts and opinions. He leaves you pondering, which many people with low entropy brains happen to dislike; since there is no conclusion to his writings, it is even hard to figure out what he is arguing if anything at all. Emerson wants you to come to your conclusion about the idea of Transcendentalism, which can be beneficial to the movement. His platonic cast of mind does not make him a true transcendentalist; it does the complete opposite; it gives the reader the ability to find if this philosophical, religious, and political movement greatly impacts them, and if they could find peace and self-reliance and maybe even the divine through nature. Many people believe that Emerson can come across as egotistical; I believe someone in our class once said he had a 'God complex.' Through Emerson's writing, he can sound very arrogant. He writes, 'Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous.' (Emerson, Beauty) At first glance, yes, this displays his egotism; however, reading Nature as a 'How to Live Manuel,' he is very arrogant. However, if one reads the words on the page and the words on the page, the reader can see the meaning behind his superficial self-importance. It is more enthusiasm than haughtiness. The sentence before reads, 'How does Nature deify us with a few cheap elements!' (Emerson) Emerson is bewildered by nature; he uses the '!' to emphasize nature's ludicrosity deifying man and the lousy creations man has made. Emerson is trying to state that Nature is the purest form of life, and yet humanity has no thanks to give. They see, and yet they are still blinded. The sea listens to no man, and the sunsets as she pleases, the mountains carry their values high, and yet they are all a prop in modern society for the pleasures of man, no thanks to give. A man-made church gets more prayers and gratitude than any forest full of nourishment any bluebird day, and any river full of fresh water and life. Did men forget that the same divine you go to give thanks to in a cobblestone church is the same divine who created these anomalies that you dismiss so casually? He is trying to make people understand that nature is the closest one can get to the divine. We are the same, no matter who we are, we were created with nature, and yet we continue to destroy, mistreat, and take advantage of the wonders it has to offer. Emerson may come across as arrogant, but it is the most harmless form of arrogance; he is trying to open the readers' eyes in any way he can to show that is the only thing that we can find ourselves and peace and happiness and as cheesy as it is, this is Transcendentalism to be closer to the divine and therefore to be closer to oneself one must be immersed it in. 'Emerson experiences this spiritual presence in the woods and away from man-built structures. In his essay, he tries to explain these unique mystical emotions, and he describes them as a feature related to man rather than nature. As if being in nature stimulates the spiritual aspect of mankinis already resides in his nature.' (Ansari, 1444) Although Emerson could come across as egotistical and arrogant, that was not his intention; his intention was a different approach of trying to engage the reader and convince them that everything he does is for the ideology of Transcendentalism.

It is evident that despite the exciting and interpretive claims of Professors Giard Du, transcendantalisme considère essentiellement dans sa définition et ses origines françaises. Emerson was influential to the Transcendentalism movement; it was surprising that an author was brave enough to argue against someone who was undeniably a transcendentalist. The author made some points that I thought were valid, but I was able to find evidence to prove my point. His central thesis for Emerson not being a true transcendentalist was, '[H]e had no system and was more a poet than a philosopher; because his rationalism 'did not allow reason to take any interest in matters about the heart, nor conscience in what concerned society,' because of his platonic cast of mind, his egotism, and indifference to practical reforms and reformers.' (Michaud, 73) I believe that Emerson did have a system. However, I thought his stance on Emerson being more of a poet than a philosopher was interesting because Transcendentalism was not just about being a philosopher. However, it also had to do with religion and to find the divine. Adding some poeticism and a less philosophical, more romantic poetry approach almost made it easier to conceptualize his ideas. However, it is challenging to argue that Emerson was not a transcendentalist. He has proved to have played a vital role in the transcendentalist movement.

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