term paper 1-individualism in society

term paper 1-individualism in society - Schillizzi 1 Matt...

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Schillizzi 1 Matt Schillizzi Paul C. Taylor 1 st Paper 23 October 2009 Individualism and the Society In America’s time period of Transcendentalism, Americans were bombarded with ideas and suggestions regarding how to live life correctly. Two of the most respected transcendentalists emerged during this time and took full advantage of their distinct viewpoints and persuaded their audiences to modify their lifestyles according to their beliefs. Both Emerson and Thoreau encourage the lifestyle of individualism; they both agreed that each person should live independent from others and treat themselves in a manner in which they would enjoy most. Living freely is what both authors stress importance upon. Emerson states this when he said “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men - that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense” ( Self-Reliance 1). And Thoreau agrees with Emerson’s idea of individualism when he says “If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man” ( Civil Disobedience 27 ). These two philosophers would seem like best buddies, for they appear to agree on the thought of individualism, however, a slight differentiation exists in each of their interpretations of individualism when it comes to the individual’s role in society. My point in this paper is to argue that Emerson and Thoreau have a distinction in their ideas of individualism when it comes to one’s role in society and to argue which one best fits today’s world. Note that the numbers in the citations correspond to the paragraph number of the mentioned text.
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Schillizzi 2 First we will look at Emerson. His essays entitled Self-Reliance and The American Scholar are very well-known pieces. The main focus of each writing is different, but they both tie together when Emerson dictates his overall message concerning the individual in his society. In The American Scholar, Emerson has more to say about where the scholar fits in society. He first defines a society as “members having suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters, -- a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man” (4). For a definition, Emerson immediately degrades the idea of society and compares it to a dysfunctional embodiment of “monsters”. It is clear right from the beginning that Emerson was not a fan of society at that time. In his perspective, our world has broken people apart from their true individual being and manufactured functions of a society; one in which does not contain real people, but rather monsters, or machines. But his feelings go further to say “The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself” (47). Here, he states that not only has our world ruined the great potential that people possess, but
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 0924 taught by Professor Taylor during the Fall '09 term at Temple.

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term paper 1-individualism in society - Schillizzi 1 Matt...

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