What Is Transcendentalism

1284 Words 6 Pages
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a popular transcendentalist throughout the 1800s, emphasized throughout his essay “Self Reliance” the importance of relying on one’s own powers or thoughts rather than another person’s. As a transcendentalist he believed in the power of thought and spirituality over ordinary human experiences and materials. Emerson conveys a radical thought process throughout his essay, one that is almost impossible for an average human to obtain. He reiterates the importance of placing yourself before others in any situation, life or death. I will be using Emerson’s assertions to support the idea of self-reliance; however, I will also use evidence given through his text to negate the unrealistic nature of his argument.
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Our world is in a constant state of conflict with one another causing the idea of being self-reliant less appealing to those unable to do so. Being self-reliant forces one to never doubt themselves and live freely with no ties to what others may think. As Emerson writes “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think”. (90), this serves as a principle for the independence one may need to have. Sadly, insecurity is a daily process for everyone and their actions, no person speaks or moves without thinking of its impact it may or may not have on a peer, the good or the bad. Self-reliance continues to stick to the idea of confidence while many feel that if they were to speak out loud, all that would happen is criticism and mocking. Although Emerson strictly notes that sarcasm or abuse is strictly prohibited in the ideal, there is no way of stopping this reaction. Emerson relays to the reader that you should live for oneself, “…Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse” (91). It holds true that it is up to yourself to speak out, however, with social media and press this act is better said than done. Mill describes the outcome of being self-reliant and confident with your opinions, “Undoubtedly the manner of asserting an opinion, even though it be a true one, may be very objectionable, and may justly incur severe censure” (56). The idea of having your own opinions and thoughts at all times in order to gain knowledge and grow society is impractical with our society turning to ‘pre made’ options rather than do it yourself. We live in a world full of shortcuts, they are trying to help us make it easier to get things done when really these alternatives are declining our growth in many

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