Homework Help

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, why should people trust themselves?

user profile pic

chank | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 20, 2008 at 5:07 AM via web

dislike 1 like

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, why should people trust themselves?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted October 20, 2008 at 9:03 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

In his essay, "Self-Reliance", Emerson says, "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."  He says that people know themselves better than they know anyone else and that they know themselves better than anyone else knows them, therefore, trusting oneself is a natural off-shoot.  Emerson also contends that if a person truly gets to know himself through introspection, then the person can rely completely on his instincts to guide him.  The catch there is that the individual must do a great deal of introspection; a process that takes much time and effort.  The transcendentalists, of which Emerson was a major proponent, believed that a person's instincts were the best guide for a person, as long as the individual knew himself completely.  Emerson contended that society wants people to think in group terms rather than in individual terms and he felt that people were better off trusting in themselves and thinking in individual terms.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes