Emerson’s Unifying Philosophy Essay

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Throughout human existence, scholars have earnestly pursued knowledge and the attainment of truth. Historical figures such as Plato, Descartes, and Emerson sought answers to daunting questions of: ‘What is truth?’; ‘What is reality?’; ‘How is wisdom acquired?’ Many scholars believe these philosophers presented conflicting viewpoints: Plato encouraging skepticism among all previous historical, cultural, and personal perspectives; Descartes questioning definitions of reality and his very existence; Emerson encouraging self-trust and confidence in one’s ideals, opinions, and convictions. Surprisingly, reconciliation can be reached from these three differing hypotheses. Emerson’s thesis merely expounds from Descartes and Plato’s…show more content…
Descartes’ revelation establishes a confidence of his existence. His meditations of reality and personal identity provide Emerson a foundation to perceive the concept of ‘self-trust’. Emerson’s exploration and definition of ‘self-trust’ merge his philosophies with those of Descartes and Plato. First and foremost, Emerson indicates a distinction between ‘Man Thinking’ and ‘thinkers’. Emerson argues thinkers “start wrong, [and] set out from accepted dogmas” giving no credence to “their own sight of principles” (Emerson 126). Contrastingly, ‘Man Thinking’ indicates action; Emerson clarifies “[Man Thinking] looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead: man hopes: genius creates” (Emerson 127). Emerson argues one engages in self-trust by creating instead of being shaped by accepted assumptions and ideals. Furthermore, Emerson asserts the essential application of knowledge. Action propels scholar’s ideals forward and without it, “thought can never ripen into truth” (Emerson 128). Action, Emerson argues, enables “the transition through which [the preamble of thought] passes from the unconscious to the conscious” (Emerson 128). Becoming ‘Man Thinking’ is only possible through application of thought, and only then, is one able to exercise trust in personal beliefs, ideals, and perspectives. Additionally, Emerson argues childhood and life experiences develop wisdom and understanding
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