The American Scholar By Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay
During the age of transcendentalism in the early 1880s, Ralph Waldo Emerson gave the famous speech “The American Scholar” to the Phi Beta Kappa Society. The speech has been immortalized because it not only challenges the traditional thinkers, it defines what makes a scholar a real American Scholar. In his words, “In the right state, he [the Scholar] is, Man Thinking. In the degenerate state, when the victim of society, he tends to become a mere thinker.” (Emerson, 2) This speech was targeted to the scholars of that time period but the ideas he delivered back then are still relevant and applicable to the modern thinkers.
To Ralph Waldo Emerson, every working men and women irrespective of their profession or livelihood is important. The human community is compared to a “One Man” where people are just a “…a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man.” (Emerson, 2) According to him, the farmers, scholars, thinkers, businessmen—every person is crucial for the society to function as a whole. It may seem that regular people cannot be scholars, but every man can be a “Man thinking”, which is an important limb of the “One Man.”
There are a few characteristics of true American Scholars that differentiates them from mere thinkers. Nature, as Emerson pointed out, should be central to a scholar’s thinking. Every scholar should try to unveil the mysteries of the world and in the process they will find more about themselves. When trying to solve the…