Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.” Does that mean the current POTUS is an Emersonian? Not quite!
If we think of the rise of Protestantism as a movement away from institutional authority and toward the authority of individuals, then Emerson’s vision is just one more step in that trend.
Emerson, philosophical mysticism, and Jamesian pragmatism all make the same basic assertion about the relation between concepts and the immediacy of lived experience.
Emerson’s ideal involves a background assumption about how human nature works.
A walk through Emerson’s essay “The Over-Soul.” We learn a lot about how the Divine is supposed to affect us if we’re in the proper mood, but get no information about what it actually is.
On Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The American Scholar” lecture (1837) and his essays “Self-Reliance” and “Circles” (1841). Be yourself! Don’t conform! Realize your oneness with the universe!
On Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The American Scholar” lecture (1837) and his essays “Self-Reliance” and “Circles” (1841). How should we live? Emerson thinks that conformity, which includes most of what passes for ethics, jobs, and scholarship, makes us less than truly human. Be true to yourself! But since we’re all ever-changing, that’s a moving target, right? But Emerson thinks that when you get really truly honest about what you think and feel, it turns out that you’ve tapped into something universal, something beyond just you, something eternal. But don’t expect Emerson to really explain that part; the upshot of these essays is primarily social, not religious, much less metaphysical. Trust yourself, stop bullshitting, stop living according to others’ expectations!
End song: “Idiot, Listen” by Mark Lint.
We’ll be discussing “The American Scholar,” “Self-Reliance,” and “Circles” about trusting yourself, being a whole person, and embracing growth. Can you dig it?