In the midst of all of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays, “Circles,” is undoubtedly a piece which masterfully incorporates Emerson’s philosophies of etymology with the spiritual. Etymology, down to its core, deals with the origin of certain phrases, words, or examples used to describe an object of meaning. Emerson uses this technique to craft a spiritual essay that pushes the reader to see the universe from a different perspective, and to tear away from the social norms of what is expected of religion to follow his or her own path. To do this, however, Emerson stresses the importance of understanding and reason. To understand is to classify, differentiate, and compare. To reason, on the other hand, exceeds understanding by serving as the
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In Emerson’s appeal to reason in the first paragraph, he recites the statement that “St. Augustine described the nature of God as a circle whose center was everywhere and its circumference nowhere” (Emerson 123). When understanding this statement, one must begin by starting at the smallest unit of what is matter, an atom. That atom is god, the center of the universe. Around that atom, however, a circumference is formed, creating a new circle, the process repeats without ever ending. However, because the circumference is never ending, God’s presence can be symbolically represented in this manner. Also from a spiritual standpoint, this basically describes how God is imminent being, that transcends time and space; likewise, because we are all part of God, we can accomplish the same thing when we open our minds up like a poet.
The Poet, as described by Ralph Waldo Emerson, serves as an interpreter for nature. The poet is someone who has taken the time to open their mind and revert to a stage of an open untainted mind, like one of a child. As Emerson describes it, this allows the poet to have a mind properly prepared in order to experience nature, which encompasses various disciplines, including spirituality. Emerson also explains that by serving as an interpreter for nature, the open-minded poet can use etymology to masterfully construct a poem or series of thoughts to describe,