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?
Michael Burgess discusses how moral philosophies often require an ideal or transcendent view from which actions can be judged and how this manifests (or doesn’t) in contemporary individualism.