How nature influences the American Scholar

The American Scholar” is an oration addressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) on August 31, 1837, to the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In his speech, Emerson utters that The American Scholar’s mind is built by several things, such as the books of the past, the influences of Nature, and his own action. Emerson has scattered a great emphasis on the impact of nature on the American Scholar.  

More Notes: The American Scholar

In his essay, Emerson points out nature’s unique role in the scholar’s development. He believes that man and nature are bound to the same root and that by studying nature, man can learn more about himself and all humankind. As a new and larger nation, America has created for scholars a way of exploring nature that the more minor but developed European countries cannot.  

Nature’s influence is first and foremost in the minds of American scholars.  He studies the phenomena of nature and discovers an analogy between them and his own mind, as both his mind and nature proceed from one root.  He studies the wonders of nature and realizes that the indescribable continuum of God’s web has no beginning, never an end.  It is always a circular force, always returning to itself.   It resembles the scholar’s spirit, which is without beginning or limitation.  It is so complete, so limitless.  The young, inexperienced mind does not know these things. 

More Notes: Emerson

Emerson describes the various elements from which he was influenced and learned. The first influence is that of Nature. Every day the sun shines, and when the sun has set, the stars appear in the sky. Every day the winds blow, and ever the grass grows. The scholar is he of all men who is attracted most of all by the scenes and sights and the phenomena of Nature. According to him, the objects of nature are not chaotic but there is a law that binds them together and that is a law of the human mind.  Thus he becomes aware of the unity in diversity which is the law of nature. 

Emerson asserts that understanding the natural world is essential for America’s young scholars because of the relationship between the laws of nature and the “laws of the human mind.” Like his contemporaries, Emerson saw nature as a cyclical and unending representation of God’s “own spirit” and inherent goodness. By extension, Emerson asserted that scholars should try to understand nature as a physical adversary to the human spirit intended to “answer it in part.”  

To sum up, nature symbolizes the physical world, but at the same time, its laws are the metaphysical exhibitions of the human mind. Emerson suggests that, through observing nature, the scholar “shall see that nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it part for part. Nature’s purpose is as a representation of the divine to promote human insight into the laws of the universe and thus to bring man closer to God. 

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

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

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