How do issues discussed in Emerson's "Self-Reliance" flow from his transcendental assumptions in his essay "Nature"?
Our age is retrospective. .... It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, ... by revelation to us, ...? Embosomed for a season in nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to action proportioned to nature, why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, ...? The sun shines to-day also. ...
Ne te quaesiveris extra
"Nor ask any opinion but your own."
"Look not outside yourself; look within."
To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. ... rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. ... detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.
The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. ... This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. ... What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text, [....] Here is the fountain of action and of thought. Here are the lungs of that inspiration which giveth man wisdom, ... . We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity.
1 Answer | Add Yours
Of course, this forum for research information can only give a highlight as a foundation for fuller and deeper research. In "Nature" Emerson focuses on the issues reflected in his idea that enshrining revelations from past thinkers goes contrary to the reality of the nature of nature. He posits that nature is the source of power of thought, revelation, and inspiration and that since "the sun shines to-day also," we may be as inspired as thinkers of old when "embossomed ... in nature." He contends that nature provides "floods of life" that "stream around and through" our beings; nature is the source of intellectual, inspired, and emotional power. He thus rejects the superiority of the past, propounding instead revelation in any present age; propounding that each age rely not upon "dry bones" of past thinkers but upon their own connection to nature's "floods" and "stream."
"Self-Reliance" picks these issues up and encorporates them while elaborating upon them. Emerson emphasizes here that it is necessary to "trust yourself" and to "trust your own thoughts." Indeed, the opening epigraph, in Latin, says Ne te quaesiveris extra, which may be translated as Nor ask any opinion but your own or even as Look not outside yourself; look within. Emerson ties this interior power of humans' minds to nature. He says that nature is the "oracle" from which this power generates, calling nature the "fountain of action and of thought." He calls nature the "lungs" and "lap" of "wisdom" and "intelligence." Therefore, as both essays elaborate upon and are founded in the same transcendental theme of bringing humanity and human thought into harmony with nature, "Self-Reliance" may be said to flow from the transcendental assumptions found in Emerson's essay "Nature."
What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text, [....] We first share the life by which things exist, and afterwards see them as appearances in nature, .... Here is the fountain of action and of thought. Here are the lungs of that inspiration which giveth man wisdom, and which cannot be denied without impiety ... . We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity.
We’ve answered 319,183 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question