Secular Individualism

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Secular Individualism
My original title for my Capstone Thesis was supposed to be "How Individualism Related to the American Vision." The further into the assignments for this class the further away from believing all of what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about in his essay "Self-Reliance" (1841, 1847). I have not completely given up on all of the points he made in his essay though.

Some of the ideals that Emerson stated that I do still believe are, "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius" (Emerson, Self-Reliance 1841, 1847). I believe that what Emerson was saying is to trust in yourself but at the same time do not persecute your fellow man for their beliefs. In Self-Reliance, he is stating that traditional thinking or traditions can be a hindrance to the development of society. Only through individualism and independent thinking can true greatness be achieved. "What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. 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" (Emerson, Self-Reliance 1841, 1847). And that to not concerning myself with what others think. "What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because

you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. 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." (Emerson, Self-Reliance 1841, 1847)

The outlook on religion, I don't feel that there in me is an actual "banning" of God. My thoughts are that documents that were written thousands of years ago and instruct you to live a certain way could not possibly have much bearing on society today. The morals and values are still there to an extent. As with most religions the Golden Rule still applies. Treat your neighbor, as you would have him treat you. "Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but proximities. I shall endeavor to nourish my parents, to support my family, to be the chaste husband of one wife, — but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men's, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth." (Emerson, Self-Reliance 1841, 1847)

"In a religiously diverse society, secular standards of reasoning accommodate

greater agreement upon a common education than religious faith. The case for teaching

secular but not religious standards of reasoning does not rest on the claim that secular

standards are neutral among all religious beliefs. The case...
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