Perfection In Self-Reliance, By Ralph Waldo Emerson

796 Words 4 Pages
In “Self-reliance” Emerson makes a bold claim on the concept of time and man’s conceptual idea of perfection. He states: “Man cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present” (151). Emerson would seem to argue that man cannot exists in the present moment unlike nature. Which is another way of saying that man simply cannot be or just exist. In order to be man must leave his thoughts of time behind and simply exists in all facets of life. This brings up two important questions. Frist: what causes man to stay fixated on the past? Is it his aware conscious? Or is it societies’ conspiracy for conformity? Secondly, how can man hope to imitate nature? Emerson’s answers to these questions lies in the understanding of his rose …show more content…
He states: “Theses roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are what they are” (151). In other words, a rose will always be a rose. It does not look to other roses for comparison. A trait Emerson hints at as being negatively human. Furthermore, Emerson begins to develop his argument that nature simply is. It does not construct time: past, present, or future. It just is. Further backing this idea, Emerson says that, “There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence” (151). This is another way of stating that time simply and completely has no relevance in nature. Nature is at every moment. It remembers not the past nor looks to a future. It simply is there. “Before a leaf-bud has bursts, its whole life acts; in the full blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less” (151). That is to say, in every stage of the flowers life, it simply exists as meant to. Emerson uses this to convey that nature is true to itself. The lack of present moment recognition in man is what Emerson calls out to be not true to …show more content…
“Nature is satisfied and it satisfied nature in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers he does not live in the present” (151). This is Emerson’s way of stating that man is busy with the past and future he cannot live in the present. Once humanity and man remove their notion of time, the perfect self can be achieved. As it can in nature who exists simply. Once this is achieved, Emerson claims that man can be “happy and strong” but this is only achieved when one ignores the “heedless of riches that surround him” (151) Simply put, once man ignores the conformist and society he can be. Existing for the sake of existing like nature is how man can truly be. Tossing the notion of time out the window, man can avoid the societal pressure to conform as nature has done. Man can be as he was meant to be.
Emerson’s argument in “Self-reliance” revolves around the notion of true self and achieving that. His argument that nature highlights man’s fault with time and failure to exist is explained logically through the analogy of a rose. By using this Emerson draws the conclusion that man’s lack of focus for being revolves around the concept of time as humanity knows it. Man cannot simply be, like the rose, at every stage of its life. Instead, man settles for a constructed idea of time and continues to dwell in the past or look toward

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