In vivid contrast to this lapsed condition, Emerson posits a vital aboriginal state that is characterized by a kind of cosmic consciousness. According to an ancient fable, there was once only "One Man," who then was divided into many men so that society could work more efficiently.
Emerson then reviews the primary educative influences on what he calls Man Thinking: The innate tendency of the mind, says Emerson, is to classify seemingly disparate natural phenomena into tendencies, facts, and laws.
In this sense his examination of the American scholar is a reformation project, an idealized portrait of intellectual life rooted in the liberated humanity of the individual thinker. In practice this means an outright rejection of conformity and groupthink, including the uncritical acceptance of established creeds and dogmas.
For Emerson, systems and institutions promote mental timidity. In the second paragraph, Emerson announces his theme as "The American Scholar" not a particular individual but an abstract ideal. Emerson begins the essay with a sketch of the social fragmentation caused by work. The remaining five paragraphs relate an allegory that underlies the discussion to follow.
This social fragmentation not only inhibits human potential; in the extreme case of chattel slavery, its soul-destroying consequences are dehumanizing. The entire section is words.
They diminish the value and intensity of direct experience while undermining the self-reliant agency necessary for authentic engagement with the world. He views this deformation as inherent in the mercantile and manufacturing culture then emerging in the United States.
Pointing out the differences between this gathering and the athletic and dramatic contests of ancient Greece, the poetry contests of the Middle Ages, and the scientific academies of nineteenth-century Europe, he voices a theme that draws the entire essay together: Equated with their occupational function, people become tool-like, with a corresponding social arrangement that reinforces this state of affairs.
However, society has now subdivided to so great an extent that it no longer serves the good of its citizens. Formerly a "Man Thinking," the scholar is now "a mere thinker," a problem that Emerson hopes to correct successfully by re-familiarizing his audience with how the true scholar is educated and what the duties of this scholar are.
He sounds what one critic contends is "the first clarion of an American literary renaissance," a call for Americans to seek their creative inspirations using America as their source, much like Walt Whitman would do in Leaves of Grass eighteen years later.
The essay treats nature as endless depth, a mirror image of the mind and the soul. Ideally, society labors together — each person doing his or her task — so that it can function properly.
And the scholar, being a part of society, has degenerated also.About Us Find out what other great minds like yours are thinking The American Scholar is the venerable but lively quarterly magazine of public affairs, literature, science, history, and culture published by the Phi Beta Kappa Society since InEmerson was invited to deliver the address “The American Scholar,” one of the most influential American speeches made at his time, to the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; the same.
"The American Scholar" was a speech given by Ralph Waldo Emerson on August 31,to the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College at the First Parish in Cambridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ultimately, Emerson believed the American scholar exists in the heart of every citizen, and that this self-possessed intellectual force could.
Originally titled "An Oration Delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at Cambridge, [Massachusetts,] August 31, ," Emerson delivered what is now referred to as "The American Scholar" essay as a speech to Harvard's Phi Beta Kappa Society, an honorary society of male college students with unusually high grade point averages.
Emerson opens "The American Scholar" with greetings to the college president and members of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College. Pointing out the diff.Download