In love there are no mistakes: lessons from the friendship of Emerson and Thoreau - Aleph
Start studying English test: transcendentalism, Emerson, Thoreau. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more Ralph Waldo Emerson. -Unitarian minister Walden and civil disobedience. Who are the . The relationship between man and nature. Henry David Thoreau tests Ralph Waldo Emerson's ideas about nature by living at Essay about Ralph Waldo Emerson And Henry David Thoreau . People who are able to understand nature and understand life relationships are called. Perhaps friends are so valuable in life because this is a relationship linked of thought was that between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Friendship suffers many tests during life, but contrary to what's.
Henry David Thoreau (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Life, though, also strengthened the link between them through circumstances of another order. In Januaryboth suffered the loss of loved ones at almost the same time. Thoreau lost his brother, John, to a tetanus infection; Emerson saw Waldo, one of his sons, die of scarlet fever. No true friend declines to accompany another at a moment of misfortune.
Life and Background of Thoreau
Emerson and Thoreau endured theirs together, and their bond strengthened all the more. There was a time when Emerson and Thoreau resented the effects of their misunderstandings, their mixed feelings, and, one might even say, the logical effects of an existence in which quests essential to each of two people run along courses which lead to their own separation.
For multiple reasons, the trajectories of both Emerson and Thoreau diverged until they became irreconcilable. That, perhaps, was the real breaking point, for no one can be the teacher of another person for all of their lives.
Inevitably, the moment comes when the teaching ends and the apprentice realizes that he has to learn for himself. Perhaps neither of the two expressed their concerns in the best way, because the relationship began to darken with reproaches, suspicion, and rivalry. This book tells the story of their friendship.
Harmon Smith emphasizes their personal bond, but also shows how their relationship affected their thought and writing, and was in turn influenced by their careers. Without Emerson's interest and support, it is unlikely that Thoreau could have expended the energy on writing that enabled him to achieve greatness. By inviting Thoreau into his home to live during two different periods in the s, Emerson effectively made Thoreau "one of the family.
Emerson also broadened Thoreau's horizon immeasurably by introducing him to an ever-widening circle of friends and colleagues. Although the bond between Thoreau and Emerson was strong, their needs were often greatly at variance.
While this led to a prolonged period of estrangement between them, they were ultimately able to reconcile their differences. Many years after Thoreau died, Emerson could look back over his long life and say that Henry had been his best friend.
Since the thoughts and feelings of the two men are so well documented in their journals and letters, Smith is able to trace the pattern of their emotional involvement in great detail.
Although the two American thinkers had a turbulent relationship due to serious philosophical and personal differences, they had a profound and lasting effect upon one another. It was in the fall of that Thoreau, aged twenty, made his first entries in the multivolume journal he would keep for the rest of his life.
Most of his published writings were developed from notes that first appeared on these pages, and Thoreau subsequently revised many entries, so his journal can be considered a finished work in itself.
During his lifetime he published only two books, along with numerous shorter essays that were first delivered as lectures. He lived a simple and relatively quiet life, making his living briefly as a teacher and pencil maker but mostly as a land surveyor. Thoreau had intimate bonds with his family and friends, and remained unmarried although he was deeply in love at least twice. His first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, was still a work in progress inwhen he went to live in the woods by Walden Pond for two years and two months.
My Friend, My Friend
Thoreau viewed his existential quest as a venture in philosophy, in the ancient Greek sense of the word, because it was motivated by an urgent need to find a reflective understanding of reality that could inform a life of wisdom. His experience bore fruit in the publication of his literary masterpiece Walden, a work that almost defies categorization: Walden has been admired by a larger world audience than any other book written by an American author, and—whether or not it ought to be called a work of philosophy—it contains a substantial amount of philosophical content, which deserves to be better appreciated than it has been.
Yet, as Cavell also notes, philosophical authors have more than one way to go about their business, and Thoreau—like Descartes in the Meditations—begins his argument by accounting for how he has come to believe that certain questions need to be addressed.
In other words, his method is predicated on the belief that it is philosophically worthwhile to clarify the basis of your own perplexity and unrest see Reid Evidently, he does not accept that whatever we register through our aesthetic and emotional responses ought to be viewed as unreal.POLITICAL THEORY - Henry David Thoreau
Indeed, Thoreau would argue that the person who is seldom moved by the beauty of things is the one with an inadequate conception of reality, since it is the neutral observer who is less well aware of the world as it is. To say that nature is inherently significant is to say that natural facts are neither inert nor value-free. Thoreau does not introduce an artificial distinction between facts and values, or between primary and secondary qualities, since he understands the universe as an organic whole in which mind and matter are inseparable.
The philosopher who seeks knowledge through experience should therefore not be surprised to discover beauty and order in natural phenomena. However, these properties are not projected onto nature from an external perspective—rather, they emerge from within the self-maintaining processes of organic life. It is when we are not guilty of imposing our own purposes onto the world that we are able to view it on its own terms.
One of the things we then discover is that we are involved in a pluralistic universe, containing many different points of view other than our own. Though it prevents my hoeing them, it is of far more worth than my hoeing. Our limited view often keeps us from appreciating the harmonious interdependence of all parts of the natural world: In nature we have access to real value, which can be used as a standard against which to measure our conventional evaluations.
There are reasons for classifying Thoreau as both a naturalist and a romantic, although both of these categories are perhaps too broad to be very helpful. His conception of nature is informed by a syncretic appropriation of Greek, Roman, Indian, and other sources, and the result is an eclectic vision that is uniquely his own.
For this reason it is difficult to situate Thoreau within the history of modern philosophy, but one plausible way of doing so would be to describe him as articulating a version of transcendental idealism.
This exercise may enable one to create remarkably minute descriptions of a sunset, a battle between red and black ants, or the shapes taken by thawing clay on a sand bank: Awareness cannot be classified as exclusively a moral or an intellectual virtue, either, since knowing is an inescapably practical and evaluative activity—not to mention, an embodied practice.
In order to attain a clear and truthful view of things, we must refine all the faculties of our embodied consciousness, and become emotionally attuned to all the concrete features of the place in which we are located. In this way, Thoreau outlines an epistemological task that will occupy him for the rest of his life; namely, to cultivate a way of attending to things that will allow them to be experienced as elements of a meaningful world.
Since our ability to appreciate the significance of phenomena is so easily dulled, it requires a certain discipline in order to become and remain a reliable knower of the world. Beauty, like color, does not lie only in the eye of the beholder: Because all perception of objects has a subjective aspect, the world can be defined as a sphere centered around each conscious perceiver: This does not mean that we are trapped inside of our own consciousness; rather, the point is that it is only through the lens of our own subjectivity that we have access to the external world.
Henry David Thoreau
What we are able to perceive, then, depends not only upon where we are physically situated: Your observation, to be interesting, i.
Subjectivity is not an obstacle to truth, according to Thoreau. A true account of the world must do justice to all the familiar properties of objects that the human mind is capable of perceiving. Whether this could be done by a scientific description is a vexing question for Thoreau, and one about which he shows considerable ambivalence. He accuses the naturalist of failing to understand color, much less beauty, and asks: We can easily fail to perceive the value of being if we do not approach the world with the appropriate kind of emotional comportment.
Thoreau sometimes characterizes science as an ideal discipline that will enrich our knowledge and experience: He observes that scientific terminology can provide the means of apprehending something that we had utterly missed until we had a name for it see Walls Yet he also gives voice to the fear that by weighing and measuring things and collecting quantitative data he may actually be narrowing his vision.
Overall, his position is not that a mystical or imaginative awareness of the world is incompatible with knowledge of measurable facts, but that an exclusive focus on the latter would blind us to whatever aspects of reality fall outside the scope of our measurement.
In that case, the best we can do is try to convey our intimations of the truth about the universe, even if this means venturing far beyond claims that are positivistically verifiable: