Self-Reliance” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Self-Reliance” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Aphorism- a brief statement that expresses a truth about life. For example,
Ideas from his essay:
 Each person must ultimately rely on herself because nothing good
comes of envying or imitating someone else, and a person can only
profit from her unique place in the world and have faith that God is
working through oneself in a unique way.
 One’s own impulses must be honored as if they came from God;
following your nature is crucial in order to be a self-reliant individual.
 It is easy to live by your own ideas when alone and to conform when
you are with others. A great person refuses to conform even in a
 A nonconformist is greeted with sour faces, aversion, and displeasure.
“…The world whips you with its displeasure.”
 “A foolish inconsistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” chastises
those who are consistent for its own sake rather than being progressive
and permitting change. Inconsistency exposes one to criticism from
 Theme of this essay: find what is true for you as a unique individual.
 Some traditions and old doctrines prevent people from seeking the
truth and following their own impulses.
 He encourages people to be open-minded and willing to contradict
their past attitudes.
 Integrity of mind is everyone’s first duty.
 Even in the face of opposition, a freethinker must not conform.
 By believing in self-reliance in all matters, Emerson would be against
slavery. As a nonconformist, he would not be afraid to go against the
sanctioned practice of society at that time.
 Good and evil names that society ascribes to actions; the only true law
is to follow one’s own nature.