Emerson And Self-Reliance
Ralph Emerson wrote many journals and essays dealing with the subject of
transcendentalism. One of his most famous works is the essay

"Self-Reliance." In "Self-Reliance," Emerson hit on the idea that the
individual should be completely reliant on God, and that every person has been
put into their certain life and position by God and that the person needs to
trust 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 has
put inside them to do things with their lives. The idea is almost that of
predestination, except for the fact that we have the choice of which road to
take. Predestination is the idea that a higher power, or God, has planned
everything that will happen to a person in their life. Emersonís idea is that

God has put the choice to us, but he has given us all of our unique gifts for
the paths we can choose to take. In "Self-Reliance," Emerson wrote, "Trust
thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine
providence has found for you, the society of your contempararies, the connection
of events" (Runes 362). Emerson also gave the idea of trusting ourselves
through God. He said that you have to trust in God to tell you what to do and
what to think. He said that if you do this that God will provide answers (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 transcendent
destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing
before a revolution, but guides, redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almighty
effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark" (363). Emerson also had the idea
that we need to be ourselves, especially in the things that we say. Again from
the popular essay, "Self-Reliance," he spoke about how we need to say what
we think one day, and then speak what is on your mind the next day, even if you
completely contradict what you said in the first day. Then he said that people
will definitely not understand you if this happens (365). That goes along with
the whole idea above about how transcendentalism was widely misunderstood
because even the great minds that thought it up donít fully understand
everything about the philosophy. Emerson concludes this thought to say that,

"To be great is to be misunderstood" (365). Emerson is obviously the father
of transcendentalism, and his great ideas were conveyed in his brilliant essays,
journals, and poems. He helped pass the philosophy on to other philosophers and
writers. One of these writers is Thoreau. Thoreau studied under Emerson and also
wrote many pieces dealing with the subject of transcendentalism. One of his most
popular pieces of writing about transcendentalism is "Walden."