The American Scholar

The American Scholar

who, what, when, where
Emerson is delivering this speech to Phi Beta Kappa at Cambridge, harvard, the college honor society.

this gathering pays homage to the love of writing, although there is not much writing occurring because everyone seems too busy.

America at this point was known mainly for manufacturing (the industrial revolution, ya know?). Emerson thinks it’s about time for America to be known for its intellectual capabilities.

the fable or Man
emerson is explaining a fable which has been passed down through time; he’s saying that mankind was originally one, but much more progress could be made when man was split into men, giving each man an opportunity to contribute to the whole of humanity.

People have forgotten the original intention of dividing labor out, the big picture has been lost. Now men are seen as only their occupation, not as men who contribute to the whole of humanity. The farmer is seen now just as a farmer, instead of a man who farms.

Man Thinking
All scholars are not Men Thinking, and not all Men Thinking are scholars.

Emerson claims that society turns men into thinkers. Thinkers are only consumed with themselves and what’s in front of them. Parrots are far and away the worst, in Emerson’s opinion. Parrots are so simple minded that they cannot even form their own opinions or ideas, and just mock other people’s.

Nature
The scholar is enraptured by nature, as he knows it will lead to the discovery of truths that apply to himself (humanity as a whole). This is a cornerstone for transcendentalists.

is alive

everything has energy. everything is linked

three influences
1. nature
duh
2. the past
reading
3. action
“only so much i know as i have lived”
self and nature
a greater knowledge of nature leads to a greater understanding of self and vice versa
trancendentalists
believed they were spiritual beings inhabiting human bodies
short lived actions
facts
vital truths
immortal thoughts
life of “fact”
the greater the thinker, the longer the fact lives
books
view into past
partial truth
the classics are essential
teach what to think and not how to think
one must be an inventor to read well
books are for a scholar’s idle times
we take away what agrees with us– but read widely
we learn by living it
bookworms
uncreative
spit out unoriginal ideas
the scholar’s duties
1. self trust
This is a difficult task, Emerson says, because the scholar must endure poverty, hardship, tedium, solitude, and other privations while following the path of knowledge.

2. preserving the wisdom of the past
remain independent in thinking and judgment, regardless of popular opinion, fad, notoriety, or expediency. Because the scholar discovers universal ideas, those held by the universal human mind, he can communicate with people of all classes and ages: “He is the world’s eye. He is the world’s heart.”

3.be brave
the scholar deals in ideas, a dangerous currency. Self-trust is the source of courage and can be traced to the transcendental conviction that the true thinker sees all thought as one; universal truth is present in all people, although not all people are aware of it.

remember
the genius is within you
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