Emerson and Economics by Alexander Kerns

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In Alexander Kern’s “Emerson and Economics,” Kern draws attention to the economical aspects found in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s texts. Specifically, Kern discusses the lack of attention that Emerson’s economical notions receive. Emerson is not associated with being an economist writer, but Kern draws attention to how “he so frequently touched the subject than an understanding of his economic ideas is a prerequisite to the evaluation of his entire thought on any relative or absolute scale” (Kern 678). Kern’s theory that readers must extract the economics out of Emerson in order to comprehend his texts is extremely useful because it sheds insight on the difficult problem of viewing Emerson as an economist, yet he views Emerson as a moral…show more content…
Moreover, Emerson’s concentration on the choices of the individual is redefined when evaluating the influences of the economy before the 1837 panic. Along the same lines, Kern discusses how Emerson developed the concept of self-reliance to explain how the relation of the individual to materialism existed because it was “always a reason in the man for his good or bad fortune, and so in making money” (qtd. in Kern 682). Essentially, Kern calls for individual’s actions to be tied to producing capital. Moreover, scholars agree with his notion by arguing that the economics of the time placed “the implications of which continue to reverberate in American culture” (Porte 24). Indeed, it is highly likely that the implications of the economic panic affected how Emerson viewed individual’s choices. I agree that the economy of the time did influence the choices of Americans, a point that needs emphasizing since so many believe that Emerson simply denounced materialism in society. Now, lets use this to evaluate Emerson’s claim that “the magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we inquire the reason of self-trust” (Emerson Par. 21). At a first glance, the reader may infer that individual’s actions rely on the trust they place on themselves. Moreover, analyzing this using the economic panic of 1837 as a point of

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