Emerson’s PhilosophyRalph Emerson wrote many journals and essays dealing with the subject oftranscendentalism. One of his most famous works is the essay”Self-Reliance. ” In “Self-Reliance,” Emerson hit on the idea that theindividual should be completely reliant on God, and that every person has beenput into their certain life and position by God and that the person needs totrust themselves. He said that God has put the power to handle things, think,and act into each individual and that the individual needs to trust what God hasput inside them to do things with their lives. The idea is almost that ofpredestination, except for the fact that we have the choice of which road totake.
Predestination is the idea that a higher power, or God, has plannedeverything that will happen to a person in their life. Emerson’s idea is thatGod has put the choice to us, but he has given us all of our unique gifts forthe paths we can choose to take. In “Self-Reliance,” Emerson wrote, “Trustthyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divineprovidence has found for you, the society of your contempararies, the connectionof events” (Runes 362). Emerson also gave the idea of trusting ourselves throwers(363).
Another quote from his popular essay, “Self-Reliance,” supports this. “And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendentdestiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeingbefore a revolution, but guides, redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almightyeffort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark” (363). Emerson also had the ideathat we need to be ourselves, especially in the things that we say. Again fromthe popular essay, “Self-Reliance,” he spoke about how we need to say whatwe think one day, and then speak what is on your mind the next day, even if youcompletely contradict what you said in the first day. Then he said that peoplewill definitely not understand you if this happens (365).
That goes along withthe whole idea above about how transcendentalism was widely misunderstoodbecause even the great minds that thought it up don’t fully understandeverything about the philosophy. Emerson concludes this thought to say that,”To be great is to be misunderstood” (365). Emerson is obviously the fatherof transcendentalism, and his great ideas were conveyed in his brilliant essays,journals, and poems. He helped pass the philosophy on to other philosophers andwriters. One of these writers is Thoreau.
Thoreau studied under Emerson and alsowrote many pieces dealing with the subject of transcendentalism. One of his mostpopular pieces of writing about transcendentalism is “Walden.”