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Emerson Non Conformity Essay

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nonconformity, Integrity, and Self-Reliance

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Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nonconformity, Integrity, and Self-Reliance

Emerson's "transcendentalism" is essentially a romantic individualism, a philosophy of life for a new people who had overthrown their colonial governors and set about conquering a new continent, in hopes of establishing new and unique views. Though Emerson is not a traditional philosopher, the tendency of his thought is toward inward reflection in which soul and intuition, or inspiration, are fundamental. The new American needed less criticism and a rejuvenated sense of personal inspiration. Taking a practical and democratic, yet philosophic interest in all of nature and in individuals of every walk of life. Emerson stresses the potential for genius and creativity in all…show more content…

This deity does not speak to groups but, in radical protestant style, to each person alone to the degree he or she attends to the message." The value Emerson attributes to the messages depends upon the Over-soul being "self-sufficing and perfect in every hour."

In spite of his individualism, Emerson's thought is similar to the romantic nationalism of 19th century Europe, but where this nationalism focused upon collective entities such as a people, their language and culture, Emerson's focus is upon the individual. In Self-Reliance he says, "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." Where nationalism stresses the development of an authentic national culture free from foreign influences and takes a collective perspective more or less for granted, Emerson applies a similar approach to each individual. Emerson complains that all men hear the inner voice, but most are too scared due to peer pressure to act upon the intuitions. "Society everywhere is a conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members." Emerson feels man must work on his own and be diligent and truthful in that work to produce a better society.
Man must be willing to take risks instead of conforming to the rules of

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Ralph Waldo Emerson was a transcendentalist meaning that he believed humans were inherently good, and that society and its institutions corrupted this purity. By nonconformity, Emerson meant to encourage others to rely only on themselves and to trust their instincts and embrace their own ideas. Romans 12:2 reads: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Before looking directly at this Bible verse, it is helpful to consider the underlying tenets of Christianity.  Ultimately, the Bible states that man is not perfect and every person is born in sin. Conversely, the underlying tenet of transcendentalism states that every person is born pure and good, only being corrupted by society, and not corrupted by the sins of the world as it exists.

Now, to directly address how Emerson’s ideas of nonconformity conflict with Romans 12:2. Besides what I have already mentioned, this Bible verse is essentially calling humans to God to be transformed by His ways, not the world’s way, and not your own. Emerson believed that he could only rely on himself when God, as evidenced by this passage, calls people to rely on Him. Technically, transcendentalism was a philosophy born of this world, established by man, and exerted by such people as Emerson. By upholding this philosophy, Emerson is in direct conflict with the Bible verse which states to “not conform to the pattern of this world.”