Self-Reliance Essay By Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-Reliance Essay By Ralph Waldo Emerson-50
Ralph, a nineteenth-century self-help guru, and asks students to interpret and paraphrase them.

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

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When our insights derive from it, they are valid not only for us but for all humankind.

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.

(See the America in Class® lesson “The Expansion of Democracy during the Jacksonian Era.”) Emerson opposed the Jacksonians over specific policies, chiefly their defense of slavery and their support for the expulsion of Indians from their territories.

But he objected to them on broader grounds as well.

If, indeed, they are true, eventually everyone will accept them, and they will be “rendered back to us” as “the universal sense.” Until the rest of the world accepts our beliefs, however, we will be out of step; we will be nonconformists. The essence of self-reliance is resistance to conformity.

Indeed, nonconformity is a sign of strength: “Whoso would be a man,” he writes, “must be a nonconformist.” In a sense “Self-Reliance” can be seen as a pep talk designed to strengthen our resolve to stand up to society’s efforts to make us conform.It appeared in 1841, just four years after President Andrew Jackson left office.In the election of 1828 Jackson forged an alliance among the woodsmen and farmers of the western frontier and the laborers of eastern cities. For more information on text complexity see these resources from “Self-Reliance” is central to understanding Emerson’s thought, but it can be difficult to teach because of its vocabulary and sentence structure.To them it seemed that the church had taken its eyes off heaven and fixed them on the material world, which under the probings, measurements, and observations of science seemed less and less to offer assurance of divine presence in the world.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.The first interactive exercise addresses vocabulary challenges.The second, well-suited for individual or small group work, presents some of his more famous aphorisms as tweets from Dr.“Nothing,” Emerson thunders, “is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” This is individualism in the extreme.While “Self-Reliance” deals extensively with theological matters, we cannot overlook its political significance.

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