References and Further Reading 1. The cultural milieu of Boston at the turn of the nineteenth century would increasingly be marked by the conflict between its older conservative values and the radical reform movements and social idealists that emerged in the decades leading up through the s. Emerson was one of five surviving sons who formed a supportive brotherhood, the financial and emotional leadership of which he was increasingly forced to assume over the years.
Life and Writings Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in and died there inat the age of forty-four. Although the two American thinkers had a turbulent relationship due to serious philosophical and personal differences, they had a profound and lasting effect upon one another.
It was in the fall of that Thoreau, aged twenty, made his first entries in the multivolume journal he would keep for the rest of his life. Most of his published writings were developed from notes that first appeared on these pages, and Thoreau subsequently revised many entries, so his journal can be considered a finished work in itself.
During his lifetime he published only two books, along with numerous shorter essays that were first delivered as lectures.
He lived a simple and relatively quiet life, making his living briefly as a teacher and pencil maker but mostly as a land surveyor. Thoreau had intimate bonds with his family and friends, and remained unmarried although he was deeply in love at least twice.
His first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, was still a work in progress inwhen he went to live in the woods by Walden Pond for two years and two months. Thoreau viewed his existential quest as a venture in philosophy, in the ancient Greek sense of the word, because it was motivated by an urgent need to find a reflective understanding of reality that could inform a life of wisdom.
His experience bore fruit in the publication of his literary masterpiece Walden, a work that almost defies categorization: Walden has been admired by a larger world audience than any other book written by an American author, and—whether or not it ought to be called a work of philosophy—it contains a substantial amount of philosophical content, which deserves to be better appreciated than it has been.
Yet, as Cavell also notes, philosophical authors have more than one way to go about their business, and Thoreau—like Descartes in the Meditations—begins his argument by accounting for how he has come to believe that certain questions need to be addressed.
In other words, his method is predicated on the belief that it is philosophically worthwhile to clarify the basis of your own perplexity and unrest see Reid Evidently, he does not accept that whatever we register through our aesthetic and emotional responses ought to be viewed as unreal.
Indeed, Thoreau would argue that the person who is seldom moved by the beauty of things is the one with an inadequate conception of reality, since it is the neutral observer who is less well aware of the world as it is.
To say that nature is inherently significant is to say that natural facts are neither inert nor value-free. Thoreau does not introduce an artificial distinction between facts and values, or between primary and secondary qualities, since he understands the universe as an organic whole in which mind and matter are inseparable.
The philosopher who seeks knowledge through experience should therefore not be surprised to discover beauty and order in natural phenomena.
However, these properties are not projected onto nature from an external perspective—rather, they emerge from within the self-maintaining processes of organic life. It is when we are not guilty of imposing our own purposes onto the world that we are able to view it on its own terms.
One of the things we then discover is that we are involved in a pluralistic universe, containing many different points of view other than our own. Though it prevents my hoeing them, it is of far more worth than my hoeing.
Our limited view often keeps us from appreciating the harmonious interdependence of all parts of the natural world: In nature we have access to real value, which can be used as a standard against which to measure our conventional evaluations. There are reasons for classifying Thoreau as both a naturalist and a romantic, although both of these categories are perhaps too broad to be very helpful.
His conception of nature is informed by a syncretic appropriation of Greek, Roman, Indian, and other sources, and the result is an eclectic vision that is uniquely his own.
For this reason it is difficult to situate Thoreau within the history of modern philosophy, but one plausible way of doing so would be to describe him as articulating a version of transcendental idealism. This exercise may enable one to create remarkably minute descriptions of a sunset, a battle between red and black ants, or the shapes taken by thawing clay on a sand bank: Awareness cannot be classified as exclusively a moral or an intellectual virtue, either, since knowing is an inescapably practical and evaluative activity—not to mention, an embodied practice.
In order to attain a clear and truthful view of things, we must refine all the faculties of our embodied consciousness, and become emotionally attuned to all the concrete features of the place in which we are located.
In this way, Thoreau outlines an epistemological task that will occupy him for the rest of his life; namely, to cultivate a way of attending to things that will allow them to be experienced as elements of a meaningful world. Since our ability to appreciate the significance of phenomena is so easily dulled, it requires a certain discipline in order to become and remain a reliable knower of the world.
Beauty, like color, does not lie only in the eye of the beholder: Because all perception of objects has a subjective aspect, the world can be defined as a sphere centered around each conscious perceiver: This does not mean that we are trapped inside of our own consciousness; rather, the point is that it is only through the lens of our own subjectivity that we have access to the external world.
What we are able to perceive, then, depends not only upon where we are physically situated: Your observation, to be interesting, i.
Subjectivity is not an obstacle to truth, according to Thoreau.The essay, for which Emerson is perhaps the most well known, contains the most thorough statement of Emerson’s emphasis on the need for individuals to avoid conformity and false consistency, and instead follow their own instincts and ideas.
Which of the following quotations is from Emersons essay Self-Reliance? of but who also do not have the legacy from a deceased wife as Emerson did. the reader is free to make his or her own. Emerson emphasizes following one’s own voice rather than an intermediary's, such as the church.
Emerson encourages his readers to be honest in their relationships with others. It is essentially Emerson’s digestion (or, some critics suggest, partial digestion) of German Transcendental philosophy of the early nineteenth century, though the idea in the West goes back to. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Complete Prose Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson tags: essay, inspirational, lecture, nonfiction, philosophy, self-reliance, social-commentary, transcendentalism.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, considered the father of the American Literary Renaissance, wrote many essays to ultimately change the societal values surrounding mtb15.com “Self Reliance”, Emerson conveys his philosophical idea that every individual has their own individual genius speaking universal truths.