Ralph Waldo Emerson "self-reliance"


"There is a time in every man's EDUCATION when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance;that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion(emerson)"

If Emerson had his way, our education system would be completely different than the one we have come accustom to. Emerson completely believes in individualism and being who you wish to be. He preaches the importance of following one's own intuitions and learning what you wish to learn, when you want to. Modern school systems are very structured, forcing students to live by the rules created for them. Emerson would be dismayed at the little freedom students have. The picture I chose shows kids learning outside in nature. This is more of what Emerson would have wanted to see. He would want students to learn the way they want to and learn what they want to. Having a classroom outside is definitely something that Emerson would support and approve of for the modern school systems.


"So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and made it enviable and gracious and it claims not to be put by, if it will stand by itself" (Emerson 4)

Though Emerson was a minister, he had a very different view of religion then most. Just like his take on education, Emerson believed in unstructured religion practice. He believed that God was everywhere and in everything. He especially felt God was in nature which is why I chose the picture I did. Unlike the normal view of religion, where you go to church every Sunday and worship with your neighbors, Emerson believed that you were with God no matter where you are. If Emerson was in the modern day, he would encourage others to worship God in nature and see him in every day life, not just in the church on a Sunday.

Social Norms

"The populace think that your rejection of popular standards is a rejection of all standards, and mere antinomianism; and the bold sensualist will use the name of philosophy to gild his crimes. But the law of consciousness abides" (Emerson 31)

Above all, Emerson really tried to instill individuality into his readers. He fully believed in being who you want to be and never caring about the opinions of others. Emerson would probably be horrified if he saw modern day society. While there are some individuals who are confident with themselves and their decisions, there are so many people who go through their lives unhappy just to keep up with the social norms. The picture I chose shows a man standing alone looking free and triumphant. This is how Emerson would want everyone to live their lives. He wants people to be fully satisfied with who they are and not need approval from anyone. If he were here, Emerson would tell his readers to ignore social norms and do whatever they think is right.

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