Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Why, according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, should people trust themselves?

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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.

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