Emerson had many philosophical concepts and beliefs. He was a revolutionary thinker, writer, poet, and speaker. He is, in essence, the face of both the American transcendentalists and the transcendental movement. Being a sect of early American Romanticism he also contributed to giving America her very own personality, and way of thinking. This is the beginning of American literature and the start of an amazing culture. He had loads of different beliefs, ideas and views that made both a lot and very little sense. I think the very best thing about his ideas is that they seem to be a solid seed. Something that when handled properly can be molded into something such as a flower, beautiful giving the world peace; or into something like a grain, a life changing concept that can revolutionize and reform peoples very lives.
In Emerson’s Self-Reliance he states, “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.” He is in simpler words saying a defined point of transcendentalism, that everyone is born good not evil. He is saying that “imitation is suicide”, you should not listen to any other voice than your own. The voice and intuition given to is all that is needed in life. In my opinion this is not the best “end result” of this concept. Yes we all have a voice inside us, but weather it is always good or not cannot be proven to be a solid rooted belief. We have something inside us this is without a doubt true due to the amazing things that some humans have done in the past. This voice is what gives us the fire or will to go on. It is passion, and trust. When we feel extreme anger, or undying love it is their. This power given to us does not seem to be in any other animal in such a form. Its closest relative, however, might be that of “instinct”. When looked at in the “big picture” humans don’t have much instinct, otherwise we would never have gotten as far as we have in life. We are a race based on sore trial and error. We don’t automatically know things, as is the common belief, but we learn throughout or long lives. If its hot you know not to touch it only because at one point in your life you must have, anger and pain flailed up inside you and you felt the most powerful form of “the voice”. It may be a very abstract though but when you grind it down into simple thoughts it makes much sense. We have this sensation that seems to flow in the nature all around us. We look at a tree and see many things. One, a source of survival. Fire and warmth, shelter. Then another might see a new design. An architectural genius may construct an entirely new thought off the form of this reaching giant trying to stretch every possible limb into the sky. Then another might see science. The study of this tree and its life, the lives it may change around it. Then of course is the one who sees nothing but its beauty. They have the true grasp on nature for it flows through them. Many many things in our world have no purpose in some eyes. These are the things that are simply for beauty. Things that help to weave the fabric of understanding and beauty. Very abstract ideals or even physical items that a lot step over or onto. As humans we have the capacity to understand these things, but that is not always the point. Understanding is barely half of it. We don’t want, or in better words, need to understand it, we want to be able to delve into it. Fabricate ourselves in the wonder. To be a part of the “big picture” and not have to worry about petty things. And so is the humans downfall, we may never be to curious we, however, might just be far to careful. To be able to allow something to fully overtake us means that first we must be able to over take it. Why must humans hold all of the power? We have that need to have a “one-up” on all things which, in my opinion, cannot happen. Emerson says that we have evil because people don’t listen to their “intuitive voice” however I think it just might be that they need this version of the voice far to much. Bad things happen mostly because people take it upon themselves far to much, or they cannot let the feeling pass them by. When a child is about to try a a new food he is utterly against it. His insides are telling him no, and everything is pointing towards that “food” being terrible. Now one of two things will happen. One, he will not want to try the food but be forced to and absolutely love it. Second he will not want it try it but will and like it, however either pride, or psychological distrusts will make him verbally hate it and never eat it again. This is also true with must grown adults, but in a different view. They may see a new idea try it and love it. Or they will see the idea, and be very wary. Wary to the point of obsession and over examination. Then when it is finally deemed worthy, the time spent trying to prove it not so can be solidified into a form of pride. They don’t want to be made a fool of thus it is denied. This is what is wrong. We cannot yet distinguish the difference between what is good and right in its entirety.
Later on Emerson says, “These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.” Now here is a prime example of both being able to agree with Emerson, and disagree. What he is saying is basically that society is not good for you. It is in solitude were he thinks we can connect with our good voice and be one with nature. However, if done in solitude then what is the point of our voice? Yes, our voice is supposed to always lead us to good, but what good can we do when no others are around us? There is no point in becoming in touch with our grace if it does not help others, because this is what good really is. Good is never just for the sole benefit of ones-self. If this was truly good, then I would want to be whatever the exact opposite is(i.e. helping all others). So to be in solitude makes little sense. If we tap upon our voice for good but cannot do good for those around us then it is useless. But, it can be taken in another aspect as well. He might have bee saying that it is good to escape society because not only can it corrupt people, but it is always good to be an individual. Before even being able to do good for other people, we must first be at in ease within ourselves. We must stand out as a different figure if we want a change for the better to take place. In both ways Emerson can make a valid point, however, what he is also forgetting is that we, as humans, will never be able to fully separate from society, because the goal of every being, indirectly, is to build it up. People all want jobs to make money, and raise a family. As is the most common belief in the norm. This is all contributing to society by pumping money through work, providing some type of service, and bring new life into the world which is by far the most important. For an example, in the Hindu/Buddhist religions you are required to meditate for yourself. You are supposed to do good in your life and then in your physical end on this earth, you will be but a drop in the eternal pail of beauty and cause life again. You start out as just for yourself but then become part of a greater being. This a devotion like no other.
Emerson also wanted people to connect with this physical world and become part of the one soul of this earth. Everything is always connected to that concept. We should strive for nothing else but unity. When thought of logically, if every single being is one, and life death, war, peace, suffering, misery, love and silence are one then their will be no opposition. Nothing will have a rival for one cannot battle itself. We must strive to become one with the greater world so that others can be entwined in. Still will you be yourself, however, everyone’s self will be one divine self wrapped in utter peace. Imagine a world made of nothing but serenity. This is a point to be taken as literally as possible. Don’t build up walls around each other to keep people out. If anything we should build walls around everyone, sowing true unity, but as humans we treasure our “rights” which is valid. We should have all rights, even over other humans, but many cannot have such. What then gives us the right to take away any life at all? Where is it shown that we can kill innocent human and non human life for nothing more than our own needs? Which leads to another human problem, one not to be addressed here and now.
Thus Emerson has led to many new beliefs, or ideas and many people will continue to do so for many many days ahead. We all have this power, it just takes a certain dose of it at its exact form to snap us into believing such. In time, all people will have this and life will be complete. Until then let us continue trying.