Readers encyclopedia of american literature emerson

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Reader’s Encyclopedia of American Literature ). - EMERSON said in “The Transcendentalist” (1842): “What is popularly called Transcendentalism among us is Idealism; Idealism as it appears in 1842. - As thinkers, mankind has ever divided into two sects, Materialists and Idealists; the first class founding on experience, the second on consciousness; the first class beginning to think from the data of the senses, the second class perceive that the senses are not final, and say, ‘The senses give us representations of things,’ but what are the things themselves, they cannot tell. - The materialist insists on facts, on history, on the force of circumstances and the animal wants of man; the idealist on the power of Thought and of Will, on inspiration, on miracle, on individual culture.” - Emerson on Idealism and Materialism “These two modes of thinking are both natural, but the idealist contends that his way of thinking is of a higher nature. He concedes all that the other a rms, admits the impressions of sense, admits their coherency, their use and beauty, and then asks the materialist for his grounds of assurance that things are as his senses represent them. But I, [the idealist] says, a rm facts not a ff ected by the illusions of sense, facts which are of the same nature as the faculty which reports them, and not liable to doubt; facts which in their first appearance to us assume a native superiority to material facts, degrading these into a language by which the first are to be spoken.” - Emerson on human beings’ relationship to the universe “I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God” (from “Nature” c. 1833). - “Self-Reliance” (1841) “Man is His Own Star” “To believe your own thought . . . to be true is genius” “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty” 2
Here Emerson begins to advocate for a proper relationship to our intellects and those of others. - Self-Reliance: The Problem with Conformity “Trust Thyself” “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist . . . Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind” - Examples include infants and boys (1747-48) - Man’s responsibility is to himself and his beliefs and to those with whom he finds spiritual a nity—not to dead institutions (1624) - Conformity to dead usages “scatters your force” (1750) - Self-Reliance: The Problem with Consistency “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do” (1751). - Self-Reliance: We Must Rethink our Relationship to Others and the Universe We are the greats; we do not have to rely on kings and traditions “We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth . . .” (1754) “Self-existence is the attribute of the Supreme Cause, and it constitutes the measure of good by the degree in which it enters into all lower forms” (1755) - Precursor to Walt Whitman

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