classic pdf books / nature – by ralph waldo emerson (essay)

Emerson spoke out against materialism, the belief that material or physical things—not spiritual—are the most important. He also stood up against formal religion, and slavery (“I will not obey it, by God.”)

Emerson, however, was not merely against certain things; he both preached and modeled a positive attitude. He became America’s leading transcendentalist (a person who believes that reality is discovered through thought and not experience). That is, he believed in a reality and a knowledge that rose above the everyday reality to which Americans were accustomed. He believed in the honesty of the person. He believed in a spiritual universe ruled by a spiritual Oversoul (the basis of all spiritual existence), with which each individual soul should try to connect.

His grand purpose, as a matter of fact, was to assist in the creation of a native American national culture.

The publication of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1836 essay Nature is usually considered the watershed moment at which transcendentalism became a major cultural movement. Emerson’s poem emphasizes the unity of all manifestations of nature, nature’s symbolism, and the perpetual development of all of nature’s forms toward the highest expression as embodied in man.

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