December 2, 2011
A Higher Understanding
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and “Nature” strive to take a deeper look into who one is as an individual. He did not agree with how society told him to live. Emerson views man as one and feels that society is our downfall, because it asks us to measure our worth against other people. He thought man should be independent and non-conformist; man should look to nature as a way to en-gage in the world. Soon after came Walt Whitman, very influenced by Emerson, however he believed that all of society is tied together. He is proud to be American and thinks of everyone as an extension from God, but agrees that for all man to reach full potential they must look to nature to obtain individualism. Published in 1855, Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” was a poem designed to call attention to the world around us. To get a better perception of the world we live in one must look beyond their everyday experiences. These ideas very much agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s view that we as individuals tend to take advantage of nature and what it truly entails. These two author’s works express their transcendentalist ideas regarding the theory that people should believe in themselves and look to nature for experience. Emerson’s “Self Reliance” takes a deep look into promoting the individual inside us all. The first line by Emerson says, “Ne te quaesiveris extra” in Latin, this means, “do not seek outside yourself” (1163). Individualism comes from within one’s own heart; man must do what is right for him, otherwise someone else will have his thoughts and he will look back disappointed. Going along with individuality is being a non-conformist, Emerson says, “What I do, is all that concerns me, not what the people think” (1166). Emerson does not care how others view his actions, for all that matters is what he does in life. Those who believe in conformity will miss out on their inner...