How can the scholar arm himself for the betterment of America in the American Scholar

Or, what are the three main influences on the American Scholar and how do they work?


“The American Scholar” is a famous speech delivered by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) in 1837 to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard University.

In “The American Scholar,” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) argues that scholars have a unique responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society. Again he exposes three main influences on the American Scholar. Here are three main influences on the American Scholar and some ways that a scholar can arm themselves to fulfill this responsibility:

Three main influences 

1.Influence of nature on American Scholar

Emerson emphasizes the importance of nature in shaping and inspiring the American scholar. The influence of nature is a central theme in the speech, and Emerson argues that contact with the natural world is essential for intellectual and spiritual growth. Emerson believed that nature was the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He saw nature as a living organism that could teach us important lessons about life, creativity, and human potential. About nature Emerson says,

“Nature is the symbol of spirit…The world is emblematic. Parts of speech are metaphors, because the whole of nature is a metaphor of the human mind.”

According to Emerson, the American scholar should seek inspiration in nature, observing its beauty and diversity, and learning from its lessons. Emerson also believed that nature could help the American scholar cultivate a sense of individuality and independence. 

Again, Emerson believed that nature could inspire the American scholar to pursue a life of purpose and meaning.

More Notes: The American Scholar

2. Influence of books in Scholar mind

Emerson argues that books are essential for intellectual growth and the development of ideas. He believes that books can inspire individuals to think critically, form their own opinions, and contribute to society through their ideas and actions. He says

“Books are the best things, well used; abused, among the worst”

Emerson also highlights the transformative power of books, arguing that they can change a person’s worldview and expand their understanding of the world. He suggests that books can serve as a source of inspiration and guidance for individuals, providing them with the knowledge and insights needed to navigate life’s challenges.

3. Scholar’s own action as influence 

He believes that scholars have a responsibility to share their ideas and insights with the world, and to use their intellectual abilities to help improve society. Emerson encourages scholars to be independent and to think for themselves rather than simply following the ideas of others. He argues that scholars should be creative and innovative. He should not be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom.

Again How can the scholar arm himself for the betterment of America is discussed by Emerson in the American Scholar.

Duties of the American Scholar 

1.Cultivate a love of learning: 

Emerson argues that a true scholar is someone who is passionate about learning and continually seeks to expand their knowledge. By staying curious and pursuing knowledge, a scholar can stay up-to-date with the latest ideas and discoveries, and be better equipped to contribute to the betterment of America.

2.Embrace individualism: 

Emerson also emphasizes the importance of individualism, encouraging scholars to trust their own intuition and think for themselves. By developing their own unique perspective, scholars can bring fresh ideas and insights to the table, and challenge conventional wisdom when necessary.

3. Connect with others: 

While individualism is important, Emerson also recognizes that no one can achieve greatness alone. Scholars should seek out opportunities to connect with others who share their interests and passions, and collaborate to tackle complex issues facing America.

4. Be an activist: 

Emerson encourages scholars to be active participants in society, using their knowledge and influence to effect positive change. This may involve engaging in political activism, advocating for social justice, or taking on leadership roles in their communities.

5. Embody integrity: 

Finally, Emerson emphasizes the importance of personal integrity, urging scholars to be honest, humble, and true to their values. By embodying these qualities, scholars can build trust with others and serve as a positive example for their fellow Americans.


Emerson’s message to scholars in “The American Scholar” is one of empowerment and responsibility. He encourages scholars to take ownership of their knowledge and to use it to make a positive difference in the world.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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