Primary things Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836) In a word, Emerson teaches us to love nature. Why? Cuz it's pretty. Why else? Cuz there's a universal spirit floating around in the world and you're way more likely to commune with it if you're surrounded by trees and flowers. Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar" (1836) What does it mean to be an American scholar? Emerson's got all the answers, as usual. And the stuff an American scholar ought to be into? You can bet your heavy-duty hiking boots one of them is nature. Being an individual—in your thought as well as your actions —is another one. Those and learning stuff via Shmoop. That was Emerson's fave. Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Divinity School Address" (1838) In this address, Emerson tells us to trust our intuition. Always. And that's about as divine as it gets, in school or out. Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance," (1841) In case all the stuff about communing with spirits in nature, being a scholar by thinking independently and individualistically, and trusting intuition didn't get the point across, Emerson wrote an essay called "Self-Reliance." It's about being self-reliant. And that's the way to go, according to Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Over-Soul" (1841) Just so you don't get confused about all this individualism and self-guided stuff, Emerson wanted to remind his readers what underlies all those ideas. That's right, it's God. Which is part of the universal spirit thing you see all over nature. So it's our soul and the universe's soul and God's soul and nature's soul. Put that all together and whaddaya get? The Over-Soul.
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