Emerson's Good Life

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Emerson’s Good Life (1)

“Do not seek yourself, outside yourself (Emerson 211).” Emerson suggests that we should live life based on our own intuitions. He proposes that we should live life coexisting in society without conforming to it. “Whoso be a man, must be a nonconformist (214).” Coexisting in society allows us to lead a life of our own inhibitions and desires. We should live a life for ourselves, not as though we live in a theater and our life is a play. Turning inward, one can find something greater.

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude (215).” Emerson makes a distinction between reality, one’s natural self, and appearance, society. The realm of reality, according to Emerson, includes truth, inner self, intuition, and divine spirit. In contrast appearance is made up of society, illusion, gossip, and falsity. Those who choose to conform to society are forced into artificial behavior that is regarded as appropriate or acceptable. Therefore they are not being true to one’s self and are allowing society to choose their dreams. Emerson believes you must look inside yourself to find a deeper truth, to live the best life possible. This life is attained by one who does not wear “masks” in society and chooses to live by their own heart.

One may be concerned that Emerson’s individualism and libertarianism may lead to subjectivism. This is the idea that anything goes, and to do “whatever floats your boat.” Emerson beliefs are concerned with people not conforming to society and to focus on themselves. Conforming “loses your time and blurs the impression of your character (215)”, forcing you to conceal your true self. Emerson clearly states, “what I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think (215).” This is the life he suggest we should live. There...
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