The American Scholar By Ralph Waldo Emerson

943 WordsSep 5, 20174 Pages
‘The American Scholar’ was a speech given to the Phi Kappa Beta Society by Ralph Waldo Emerson in Cambridge on August 31st, 1837. At the time he gave the speech, it had only been 60 years since the United States of America broke away from the British. The fledgling country underwent an identity crisis. A distinctly American culture did not exist yet because the young nation still held onto too many ties to Europe. Using his poetic skills, Emerson wanted to change that. With the American Scholar essay, he wished to declare an intellectual Declaration of Independence from the continent of Europe and create an ideal ‘American Scholar’ for the students of the time to strive towards. The essay turned into a testament to American academics, and…show more content…
Another reason why I qualify for this position is that the world of nature constantly influences me. Emerson states that “the ambitious soul sits down before each refractory fact; one after another, reduces all strange constitutions, all new powers, to their class and law” (8). Obviously, he is referring to science. I believe that civilized peoples have a duty to themselves to solve all of the mysteries of nature that are possible to solve. Furthermore, whether I find that “geometry, a pure abstraction of the human mind, is the measure of planetary motion,” or I am the one who “finds proportions and intelligible method through matter,” (8), the importance of what I’m doing is that I am expanding the realm of human knowledge. Because of the fact that nature influences me and so many other scholars, it is my duty to further the human mission. Subsequently, I qualify because of how I learn from books and the past. Emerson was adamantly disapproving of people who do not think critically, stating that “Meek young men grow up in libraries believing it is their duty to accept these views, which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given,” stating that they are “forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries, when they wrote these books,” (13). Specifically, he is saying that if someone picks up a book and read through, that person then must then think over what they read.
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