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Emerson's Theory - Essay Example

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Introduction The term “words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words” would denote that there is a relationship between the self-expression of an individual, and the personal conscience of the individual. There is a relationship between the inner and outer lives, as it were…
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Download file to see previous pages In that case, the person would be “talking the talk” but not “walking the walk.” The personal conscience of the individual would be in the person’s actions, because, to use yet another cliche, “actions speak louder than words.” It is when one’s words and one’s actions are in congruence does the truth of the statement that Emerson made – “words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words,” come into fruition. This means that the self-expression of the individual and the personal conscience of the individual are in harmony. To illustrate this point in modern terms, one must consider the people who live by their ethical principles that they espouse with words, so that their actions are their words and their words are their actions. They speak about what they believe in, but that in which they believe is obvious to anybody who witnesses their actions. For instance, consider the animal lover who is a vegan and never wears leather, and passionately gives to animal causes. This is an individual whose actions are words in that they tell the world what this person believes in, and their words are consistent with their actions, so their words are actions, too. Words and action have a symbiotic relationship. On other hand, consider somebody who states that they, too, are an animal lover, yet they eat meat produced in factory farms and do not have any qualms about wearing fur or leather. In this case, the actions are also words, and the words are different from what is being spoken – the actions state to the world that this person does not have real concern for animals, so the words are, essentially, meaningless. The incongruence of the actions and the words belie the thesis that Emerson tries to put out. Discussion Henry David Thoreau spent some time thinking about the relationship between conscience and self-expression, as evidenced by his masterpiece Walden. His views on self-expression and conscience are further illuminated in his letter to H.G.O Blake in March of 1848. In this letter, he states that “The outward is only the outside of that which is within,” because men are revealed by their habits (Lane, 1966, p. 13). He points out that habits are rigid, circumstances are not, and, as such, the habits are the true reveal of what is within the man. To this end, Thoreau was critical of the man whose habits reveal him to be materialistic, for these are the men, according to Thoreau, who do not know anything. They cannot grasp the meaning of life, because their outer habits, of working desk jobs, do not avail them of developing their inner life. Simplicity, in Thoreau’s eyes, was the only way that a man can throw off the yoke that blinds him, and grasp the truth about life itself (Lane, 1966, p. 14). This simplicity led him to live a fairly isolated life on Walden pond, living alone, off of his own labour, and a mile from any neighbor (Thoreau, 1937, p. 3). Thoreau belief that materialism is a clouded filter through one might view life led him to simplify his life in this way, for he really believed that the meaning of life may only be revealed when a man strips his outer habits down. In this way, his personal conscience and self-expression were in harmony. This would not be true if Thoreau did not attempt this endeavor, if he merely wrote about the dangers of materialism and living an ordinary life surrounded by only the familiar, yet lived the ordinary, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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