Read Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson Free Online
Book Title: Self Reliance|
The author of the book: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Date of issue: June 13th 2010
ISBN 13: 9781453621738
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 681 KB
Edition: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Read full description of the books Self Reliance:
6.0 stars. This book seriously affected me in a very postive way. It's not really even a book but rather a long essay. Essay or book, it had a profound impact on me. In fact, I was utterly floored while reading this and it has become one of my "All Time Favorites."
Other then gushing and throwing great heaps of praise on the work, I am not sure how best to describe the contents so as to do it justice. If I had to try and sum up Emerson's Self Reliance I would say that it is first and foremost the quintessential statement in support of the individual and the individual's right (and obligation) to think for themselves and to question EVERYTHING. Related to this first point, Emerson holds that you must never give in to the easy momentum of the status quo just because it is pulling you along. Rather you must investigate the world around you, take in the evidence of your senses and experience and use your own powers of reason to determine the correct path your life should follow.
In short, it is an anthem to the individual and a battle cry to everyone to think for themselves. At first blush, this may sound a little like an appeal for anarchy, but that is certainly not the case. He is simply expressing the case for “individualism” and believing in yourself and not blindly following the herd because you "assume they knoiw where their going."
Knowing that I could never do justice to Emerson's own words, I thought I would list of few of my favorite quotes from "Self Reliance" so as to hopefully provide some context for my review.
Quotes # 1 and #2 :
“Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.”
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”
These quotes illustrate what I found to be the most important message of Emerson’s work, namely to always keep an “open mind” and be willing to question your own beliefs and ideas rather then feeling "boxed in" because you may have previously voiced a contrary opinion. These quotes may have had the most powerful impact on me. It is the twin goals or both being forceful with your beliefs and opinions while at the same time always being willing to question them and listen (not just hear) to contrary opinions and never be afraid to change your mind if you find an error in your thinking.
Quotes #3 and #4 :
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”
These quotes demonstrate the central concept in Emerson’s work, namely that you must be true to your instincts and beliefs and always willing to stand by what you (rather than others believe). Emerson felt strongly that “you” are the most important voice you will ever hear and you must trust yourself in your thoughts and endeavors.
Quotes #5 and #6 :
“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.”
“Insist on yourself; never imitate.”
These quotes are an expression of what Emerson saw as the most fundamental obstacle against self reliance, namely the conventions and habit of life that everyone gets used to following without examination. I think it is important to note here that Emerson was not an anarchist or a hater of society and did not believe in an individualism of selfishness. Rather, he simply argued that the path to true happiness for any individual should be a unique journey and not one that follows the “unquestioned” paths of others simply because society or history tells us to do so.
Quote #7 and #8 :
“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
“To be great is to be misunderstood.”
These quotes are examples of Emerson's belief that you should never be afraid to speak a “new” thought or one that goes against conventional wisdom if you believe it to be true. Emerson says that to often we are afraid to speak a thought and then later some “great thinker” will say something that was what we had previously thought but been afraid to speak. He talks of Jesus and Plato and Socrates as people who were terribly misunderstood and even persecuted in their own lifetimes but whose genius and “original ideas” came to shape the lives of millions.
This work was brilliant, insightful and very, very powerful and one that will be given a permanent list on the most important works I have read. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
Read information about the authorin 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston. Educated at Harvard and the Cambridge Divinity School, he became a Unitarian minister in 1826 at the Second Church Unitarian. The congregation, with Christian overtones, issued communion, something Emerson refused to do. "Really, it is beyond my comprehension," Emerson once said, when asked by a seminary professor whether he believed in God. (Quoted in 2,000 Years of Freethought edited by Jim Haught.) By 1832, after the untimely death of his first wife, Emerson cut loose from Unitarianism. During a year-long trip to Europe, Emerson became acquainted with such intelligentsia as British writer Thomas Carlyle, and poets Wordsworth and Coleridge. He returned to the United States in 1833, to a life as poet, writer and lecturer. Emerson inspired Transcendentalism, although never adopting the label himself. He rejected traditional ideas of deity in favor of an "Over-Soul" or "Form of Good," ideas which were considered highly heretical. His books include Nature (1836), The American Scholar (1837), Divinity School Address (1838), Essays, 2 vol. (1841, 1844), Nature, Addresses and Lectures (1849), and three volumes of poetry. Margaret Fuller became one of his "disciples," as did Henry David Thoreau.
The best of Emerson's rather wordy writing survives as epigrams, such as the famous: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Other one- (and two-) liners include: "As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect" (Self-Reliance, 1841). "The most tedious of all discourses are on the subject of the Supreme Being" (Journal, 1836). "The word miracle, as pronounced by Christian churches, gives a false impression; it is a monster. It is not one with the blowing clover and the falling rain" (Address to Harvard Divinity College, July 15, 1838). He demolished the right wing hypocrites of his era in his essay "Worship": ". . . the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons" (Conduct of Life, 1860). "I hate this shallow Americanism which hopes to get rich by credit, to get knowledge by raps on midnight tables, to learn the economy of the mind by phrenology, or skill without study, or mastery without apprenticeship" (Self-Reliance). "The first and last lesson of religion is, 'The things that are seen are temporal; the things that are not seen are eternal.' It puts an affront upon nature" (English Traits , 1856). "The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, and of the merchants a merchant." (Civilization, 1862). He influenced generations of Americans, from his friend Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, and in Europe, Friedrich Nietzsche, who takes up such Emersonian themes as power, fate, the uses of poetry and history, and the critique of Christianity. D. 1882.
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