Ralph Waldo Emerson was a major figure in transcendentalism, he embodied some of the highest ideals of his age. Emerson was born on May 3rd 1803 in Boston. He received a classical education at Boston Latin school and at Harvard College. With Margaret Fuller another poet and thinker he founded The Dial, which published Transcendentalists literature from1840-1844, and in the years between 1837-1844 he published his most famous works, The American Scholar, The Divinity School Address, and two volumes of Essays (1841 & 1845), which contained the influential pieces Self-Reliance , The Poet, Friendship, and The Oversoul, and Nature(PBS Online).
Key Quote from Self Reliance:
"To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,-that is genius. Speak your own latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense...the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within...Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his."
Analysis of Self Reliance Quote:
This quote is signifying that you must rely on yourself for your own thoughts. You should not dismiss your own thoughts because someone else disagrees with you but you should honor those thoughts because they could be something brilliant. The famous scholars Plato and Milton disagreed with others often but it caused them to discover amazing things, and they did not let others hold them back. You must believe in yourself and never reject your thoughts because when you do you lack creativity.
To find more information about Emerson and quotes from Emerson's various works, click here.
Commentary from the authors of the website:
"Although Emerson tends to contradict himself a lot, he makes some valid points. I agree that each persons own thoughts are important and they should not be rejected just because others disagree. On the other hand, I disagree that people should reject soceity completely. I think it should be a combination of everyone's own thoughts along with some of others ideas because each person does not know everything." -Shannon O'Brien
"I agree with Emerson's ideals that everyone should follow their own thoughts and follow what they believe in. I think that everyone should live how they want to live if it makes them happy. I disagree with completely rejecting soceity. I believe that soceity has some factors that benefit each person. I think family and friendship are one of the most important things in life because happiness is only real when shared." - Brittany Cuellar