The American Scholar

Topics: United States, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thought Pages: 2 (443 words) Published: October 20, 2006
After reading the text, The American Scholar, by Emerson, I feel that he is trying to build a new American identity. This lecture was given in 1837, only fifty or so years written after the Declaration of Independence was written. Thus, I think that Emerson is trying to break away from being European. According to the last author we read, Crèvecoeur, "The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinion. From involuntary idleness, servile dependence, penury, and useless labour, he passed to toils of a very different nature, rewarded by ample subsistence" (931). It is plain to see that more then one person thinks America is a new world, full of new ideas and new understanding. Emerson perhaps embraces these ideas of a "new principle" and sets a guideline for making an American identity.

First, Emerson speaks of how to keep society together as whole, which he calls "One Man." He explains this by saying, "Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and solider" (1610). Basically, Emerson is stating that man should not be separated people, that they should be one community aiming for a certain goal. Emerson speaks more of how man should be seen as a whole, "The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters, - a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man" (1610). Everybody sees the different parts of a person, but never sees the man as on entity.

Thus, an "American Scholar" needs to have "Man Thinking" to understand this "One Man" concept. Emerson states at one point, "Books are written on it by thinkers, not Man Thinking; by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set our from out accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles" (1612). I feel that this sums up what it is to "Man Think." This is to...
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