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Attributes Of The American Scholar By Emerson

929 words - 4 pages

How do you know? How did you learn what you know? Emerson portrays the American scholar as a person who learns from three sources. These sources by which a scholar is educated are nature, books and action. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American scholar is one whose character is split into many facets.Nature has the most influence on the mind because it is the only resource that is everywhere. In it's natural form or altered by man everything is nature. Nature is like a circle with no beginning and no ending; "Everyday, the sun; and, after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the wind blows; ever the grass grows." Its presence is always available to anyone; through sight, smell, sound, ...view middle of the document...

The scholar takes this classification a step further; seeing nature and all it's levels of classification as visual representation of the thoughts in our mind. Nature is a direct reflection of the human mind. When a person looks into a mirror they see their physical reflection of themselves. When a scholar looks at classified nature they see a reflection of their mind. Human intellect depends upon the intrinsic intelligibility of reality. Physical laws and processes, energy flows, biological ecosystems, the human body, society, language--the world at large is one of inexhaustible potential meaning. That infinite repository of system and order is evident to anyone who walks on a beach, stares at the stars, watches insects, and climbs a tree. Without the order in nature to stimulate and reward the activity of the mind, thinking would proceed in futile circles, significance would remain elusive, facts and things would remain discreet, fragmented, and random. Instead, because of the intelligibility of nature, says Emerson, "the ambitious soul sits down before each refractory fact; one after another reduces all strange constitutions, all new powers, to their class and their law and goes on forever to animate the last fiber of organization, the outskirts of nature, by insight."The third source of learning is the Past; human history and culture as it is preserved and conveyed in various artifacts, but primarily in books. In books one finds dead fact transmuted into quick thought, perishable life transmuted into durable truth. Books process the world through the mind of one thinker and make it more accessible to others. To those...

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