Essay on The American Scholar By Ralph Waldo Emerson

865 Words Oct 3rd, 2016 4 Pages
An analysis of “The American Scholar” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Obtaining the utmost knowledge, wisdom and power has been an arms race since the dawn of mankind. However, the potential greatness of every living man is overshadowed by the exceptional men of the past. In spite of this, Ralph Waldo Emerson in “The American Scholar,” calls for the liberation of the dormant genius, or scholar, within each American. Emerson explores the two very different kinds of scholars known as Man Thinking and the bookworm. He argues that there are three important influences that determine what breed of scholar will emerge: nature, books, and action. In his speech, “The American Scholar” he reasons that Man Thinking is the superior scholar because he understands the perfect balance needed from the three influences on their intellect. Emerson valued the potential of each man to be a scholar and categorized them into two breeds. A bookworm “value[s] books, as such; not as related to nature and the human constitutions,” (Emerson 539). These individuals learn through the passive ingestion of books, and value scholarship over all. In contrast, Man Thinking “is the delegated intellect” (Emerson 540) who values books, but also values nature as well as experience. Man Thinking recognizes his obligation as the sole person responsible for spreading universal wisdom to the people who look up to him or her. For this reason, the bookworm is a person who falls short of Man Thinking. The bookworm knows…

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