Ralph Waldo Emerson Self Reliance

ISBN 13: 9781453621738

Self Reliance

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9781453621738: 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 or worse as his portion." A beautiful classic that is just as relevant today as it was a century ago.

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A Q&A with Ralph Waldo Emerson

For nearly 200 years, Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance has been the preeminent book on independence, non-conformity, and trusting oneself. At The Domino Project, we believe that Emerson's words are just as relevant today as they were in 1841. Read on:

The Domino Project: There has been much talk of the failing education system in America, and even new groundbreaking movies such as Waiting for Superman and Race to Nowhere documenting these failings. Do you have any suggestions on how we fix this broken system?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Self-Reliance: The intellect is vagabond, and our system of education fosters restlessness. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home. We imitate; and what is imitation but the travelling of the mind?

Question: Society's quick pace makes it hard to focus and concentrate. What can one to do achieve serenity today?

Emerson: Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

Question: Many in society are afraid of of being themselves and speaking authentically. Why do you think that is?

Emerson: Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God today. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.

Question: What is the key to happiness with one's work and occupation?

Emerson: A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.

Question: There are so many popular opinions in society today. How should we know whom to listen to?

Emerson: Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Question: What advice do you have for creators and artists who don't think they create original work?

Emerson: Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him.

About the Author:



Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882), known professionally as Waldo Emerson, was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, "Nature". Following this ground-breaking work, he gave a speech entitled "The American Scholar" in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered to be America's "Intellectual Declaration of Independence".

Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first, then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series, published respectively in 1841 and 1844—represent the core of his thinking, and include such well-known essays as "Self-Reliance", "The Over-Soul", "Circles", "The Poet" and "Experience". Together with "Nature", these essays made the decade from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson's most fertile period.

Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for humankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson's "nature" was more philosophical than naturalistic: "Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul". Emerson is one of several figures who "took a more pantheist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world."

He remains among the linchpins of the American romantic movement, and his work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that have followed him. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was "the infinitude of the private man." Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of fellow Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau.

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