The American scholar—and we can't forget the distinction of the American, as opposed to the European scholar—has, first, a duty not to be a "meek bookworm," docilely reading the great authors of the past and blindly doing what they say. Instead, Emerson argues that it is the duty of the American scholar to think for himself and evaluate these old ideas. A distinctly American scholar must not be content to be derivative—he must be strive for genius which:
looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead
Emerson also states that the American scholar also has a duty not to be a recluse. He must embrace action and experience as the basis of knowledge, along with books. As Emerson says:
I will not shut myself out of this globe of action, and transplant an oak into a flower-pot
Furthermore, unlike the Europeans (who, Emerson says, "whittle" away at one idea until they have nothing left), an American scholar has a duty to be a broad-minded generalist.
In addition, the American scholar must think for himself and trust his own inner voice. By living a balanced life in the world, listening to the divine voice inside, and embracing all knowledge, the American scholar develops what is most essential: character. He has a duty to cultivate character, for, as Emerson puts it:
Character is higher than intellect
Ultimately, Emerson defines the American scholar as distinct from the European scholar by his not being backward-looking, weak, effeminate, timid, reclusive, or vitiated. He is the foundation of the republic and has the duty to nurture the robust, red-blooded, active, American virtues delineated above. Emerson states:
The study of letters shall be no longer a name for pity, for doubt, and for sensual indulgence. . . . A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.