Ralph Waldo Emerson And Transcendentalism

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated ‘do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ Ideas like Emerson show the true meaning of transcendentalism. Transcendentalism was a huge cultural movement in the nineteenth century. Ideas of this movement still influence our society in the twenty-first century. Emerson advocates the ideas of nonconformity, self-reliance, and the importance of nature throughout all of his works. He was a man whose perspectives on life and the universe were fascinating and powerful. Jobs exemplifies transcendentalism in the modern world with his beliefs on staying true to yourself and take the chance to do what you truly love. He believed that one should follow their heart in order to achieve their biggest dreams. Silverstein expresses his idealistic transcendentalist thoughts through creative illustrations, perfectly capturing the difficulties of staying true to oneself when facing the world. Transcendentalists encompass the positive renewal and growth of individuals, and they deserve recognition for changing the world into what it is today.

Transcendentalists truly value nonconformity, shown thoroughly by Shel Silvestein in The Thinker of Tender Thoughts (1963). The interpretation of the societal standards is that we will be able to find ourselves in the midst of the pressures, expectations, and obligations society has thrown upon us daily. As the image above shows, even as we develop our personalities and thoughts, we are easily influenced by the words of others. The man in the wordless poem thinks, dreams, and dances to the beat of his own drum. The flowers represent his thoughts and his divergence from everyone else. He is different. He is unique. He is himself, and from the look of it, he is content with who he is. Problems arise, however, when he is faced with the people around him. Across the page are men without flowers growing from their heads; men who have torn away from their own uniqueness in order to fit into the societal standard. This leads them to contempt the man with the flowers growing out of his head, who has, until that moment, embraced his differences. In the face of societal pressure, the man with a head of flowers caves and is now a part of the societal standard. He cuts off his personal way of thinking and steps in to join the rest of society. By doing this, he ignores what makes him different. This is conforming to society and going against the status quo. By following societal standards, the man believes he can finally fit right into the world and

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By fitting into the world with societal standards, you must believe that you can overcome the weaknesses of guaranteeing you can make a difference. Throughout Steve Jobs’s most famous speech, “You’ve Got to Find What You Love,’ transcendentalism is woven throughout. The purpose of Jobs’ speech to the graduates and the reader was to inspire individualism and self-confidence to make their dreams become reality. By thinking outside the box while hitting along the way, Jobs became a huge sensation to individuals aspiring to do what he did. Jobs, throughout his speech, emphasizes the idea of “simplicity”; it is key for a successful life in his mind. As stated in his speech, ‘that’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple’ (Jobs). Considering that work was his preferred choice rather than college, Jobs spoke about his beliefs to the graduating class of Stanford University in 2005, saying;

‘I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes, life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love’ (Jobs).

His words left a dominant train of thought on so many people, inspiring others to go out in the world and create a change. He is an avid believer that you have to discover yourself before you can influence the lives of others. Jobs is a huge example of how modern-day transcendentalism is still very much present. He traces his success to self-assurance. Praise should be highly attributed to many transcendentalists such as Jobs. He has clearly earned his riches and success from his deep moral reflection. The three stories he shared throughout his speech make you feel as if you, too, can achieve your dreams. And that was his purpose– to make common, everyday people realize that they can achieve what they want with ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ (Jobs).

Staying true to oneself is a key role in the modern art of transcendentalism, and holds a minor role in the beginning of this philosophical movement. Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the focal figures related to the American philosophical and artistic movement known as Transcendentalism. In “Self Reliance’.’ the individual is the main argument that the universe is inside every person, and every individual is a piece of the universe. Emerson further illuminates that there is hidden solidarity to everything, including the individual– that an individual has the capability to be heard, make an impact on society, being alone can have the benefit of the good towards them. He explains that when the individual takes part in self-consideration– definition of self-consideration– they come to think that the individual isn’t separate from all the other pieces of the universe. Emerson believes that solidarity belongs to an individual. According to Emerson’s views, “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”(Emerson 396). This way of thinking was extreme for the time, and it struggled with the customary ideas that surrounded society. Emerson contends against the predominant convictions by expressing the fact that it can’t be found in either the regular ethical quality of mass culture or in establishments. For example, the congregation or government, since they debilitate the person from mulling over themselves, add the rest of the explanation/analysis here. Emerson staunchly believed that the individual can discover (their own) reality by focusing on their own wits and instinct. To Emerson, at that point, it is isolation instead of the organization of others, that is generally helpful for the disclosure of the truth. Having the option to hear one’s inner voice, ignoring the impact of society, is the one thing that makes an individual extraordinary.

Transcendentalism brought about a new way of thinking in the nineteenth century, with ideas of self-reliance and universal peace taking the lead from cultured transcendentalists like Silverstein, Jobs, and Emerson. There are leaders who create diversity and positive change in the world. Individually, transcendentalists can be described as “outlandish” or “rebellious”, but as a whole, they take little steps to achieve big ideas. By improving the renewal growth of society, transcendentalist efficiently made people realize there can be positive output into the world. With the help of their uplifting and highly effective words, transcendentalist changed people’s lives forever, whether it is by gaining freedom or developing impeccable technology for our future, or touching on how individualists own growth impacts a whole society. The amount of recognition deserved for these transcendentalists is huge. They have changed people for the better and made recognizable changes to not just society, but the world. More people should appreciate their individualistic behavior because of what the outcome has created for us. They have faith that people are at their best when truly ‘self-reliant’ and independent. It is only from such real individuals that a true community can form.   


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