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Primary Source Analysis (Between Emerson and Thoreau) - Essay Example

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Primary Source Analysis: Emerson and Thoreau Today Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are recognized as seminal 19th century American writers. Emerson’s spiritual approach – transcendentalism – would herald man’s relation with nature as fundamental approach to truth…
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Primary Source Analysis (Between Emerson and Thoreau)
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Download file to see previous pages This essay examines Emerson’s ‘Nature’ and passages from Thoreau’s ‘Walden,’ arguing that these texts reimagine our epistemological connection with the Universe through poetically reframing the way we approach nature and our philosophical relation to history and humanity. One of the most prominent connections between the texts is the need to view nature through a poetic lens. In this way, both Emerson and Thoreau distinguish between forms of interacting with nature with this poetic lens, and modes where nature is viewed only for its utility. Emerson indicates, “His relation to nature…is through the understanding, as by manure, the economic use of fire, wind, water, and the mariner’s needle” (Emerson, p. 7). This distinction between the poetic view of nature and the economic view of nature is also echoed in Thoreau. Thoreau writes, “I have frequently seen a poet withdraw, having enjoyed the most valuable part of a farm, while the crusty farmer had supposed that he had got a few wild apples only” (Thoreau, p. 3). In both instances there is the recognition that man’s transcendental interaction with nature must occur under the auspices of poetic observation. Another coinciding element between both texts is a consideration of man’s relation to history. ...
Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” (Emerson, p. 3). Later in the text Emerson indicates that the existence of a common man in 19th century America is just as glorious as Julius Caesar’s existence. In this way Emerson is indicating that man’s search for truth and meaning should be rooted in their relationship with nature over their relationship history. To an extent Thoreau embraces Emerson’s epistemological positioning of nature as transcending history. Thoreau writes, “I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks” (Thoreau, p. 5). Still, Thoreau seems more willing to revel in the way that nature brings man into a direction connection with historical precedent. In either instance there is the The means that the texts explore the way man interacts with nature represents another significant consideration. Emerson clearly embraces a phenomenological connection with nature and subsequently the universe. He indicates, “The foundations of man are not in matter, but in spirit. But the element of spirit is eternity” (Emerson, p. 6). In addition to indicating this means of connecting with nature, Emerson articulates a number of dimensions to his perspective, including notions of the Soul. While Emerson works to create a pantheon of spirituality through reference to the Soul, Thoreau works more to demonstrate appropriate ways for man to consider their place in the world and their relation to nature. In one instance Thoreau describes his entrance into town. He comments, “When I meet the engine with its train of cars moving off with planetary motion, -- or rather like a comet, for the beholder knows not if with that velocity ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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