“Nature”         Emerson said, “Every appearance in nature corresponds to some

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“Nature”         Emerson said, “Every appearance in nature corresponds to some state of the mind…” I like the fact that Emerson has an imagination. This statement is very true because I cannot look at anything in nature without having some type of feeling come to me. Whether it is a blue sky and happiness or a gray sky and sorrow, all things in nature bring a feeling.

        On discipline, Emerson writes that nature is a discipline of the understanding in intellectual truths. I like this because Emerson wrote of nature in so many forms; he included natural human characteristics in his definitions of nature.

“Self-Reliance” In Self-Reliance, the passage that begins, “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature,” is an insightful passage. Emerson believed that the one and only way to live a moral and pious life was to follow one’s conscience. Emerson was a firm believer in this type of morality that each person holds within himself.

I think it is wonderful that he equates his “nature” with his conscience, which is people’s natural sense of what is right and what is wrong. I, too, believe that conscience and not some rulebook is the true source of all goodness. Ideally, if everyone had a well-developed sense of morality, then the world would not even need laws; people could just follow their consciences and the world would be at peace.

        A second passage I want to discuss from Self-Reliance because I truly connected with it was the passage on non-conformity. Emerson’s idea of non-conformity is very different from that which you would commonly hear today in our society, but it is probably the best definition of non-conformity that I have heard in my lifetime. Emerson believed a man should “stand his ground” in the face of adversity, and not just give up his own values to follow a crowd. Emerson believed that non-conformity builds character. Emerson wrote about how everyone in society seems the same, which still holds true today, but that one person with real character reminds you of no one and nothing else. The problem with today’s world is that everyone just wants to follow a crowd; nobody really cares about what he or she believes anymore. All they care about is what everyone else will think is acceptable. Among young people, this is a tremendous problem; kids just want to be accepted by their peers. In order to achieve this end, they do things that they know are wrong, jeopardizing their own character and integrity in order to fit in with a certain group or clique.

        It is interesting in “Self-Reliance” when Emerson quotes Pestalozzi. Emerson is using his quote to show that no one will help another person. I do not tend to agree with this statement, because I think that there are people who are willing and able to help other people, and that they do help others.

        Overall, “Self-Reliance” seems to be something that Benjamin Franklin would have written, which is ironic because Franklin and Emerson were so different from each other. Franklin would have written something like this in pursuit of wealth. Emerson wrote this in pursuit of spiritual health.

“Journals”         I think that Emerson’s passage on writing is a little bit harsh and insensitive. He leaves almost no leeway for the art of writing.

        I disagree with Emerson’s theory about nightmares being our “dosage” of what we rarely encounter in real life. I think that people do know the emotion of terror, and very well. I also disagree that nightmares leave one pleased; I have never awakened from a nightmare and felt anything but terrified. People in their daily lives deal with terror. Whether it is physical or emotional; terror is very present in almost everyone’s life it seems. I think that nightmares are merely a reflection of this terror that people experience.

        When Emerson wrote on himself, he was brutally honest, and harshly critical. I admire him for writing such things about himself because I know that I could never write so harshly about myself. Emerson seems especially harsh because of how great a man he did become.

“The Divinity School Address”         In this speech, Emerson brought out two of his problems with Christianity. He said, “Historical Christianity has fallen into the error that corrupts all attempts to communicate religion.” The fact that he is writing this to a group of men who are being ordained Christian ministers makes this incredibly controversial. Emerson had good intentions for his speech, but he seemed to have lost the respect of the ministry. The second problem that Emerson brings out is that people are following laws, but they are not examining their souls to find God inside. I believe that Emerson had a good point here. Even today, most Catholics just follow laws and rules. With the exception of a few, no one that I see in the Catholic Church today really makes an effort to find the goodness in him or herself through examination of the soul. Most are only interested in “being good Catholics” by the letter of the law, but then become judgmental and cynical, which are completely apart from the catholic teachings.