Iris's Reviews > Self-Reliance and Other Essays

Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Jun 04, 12

bookshelves: school-reading, philosophy
Read in October, 2011

"Self-Reliance" is an essay that captures the independent spirit behind many Americans, but it overlooks the sinfulness of people. Emerson calls on each person to listen to his own intuition rather than society, membership organizations, or religious traditions. He believes that each person can achieve his greatest genius by listening to himself.

In the middle section of the essay, Emerson presents his arguments for his belief. The support seems to largely be based on a faulty understanding of God. He believes that God speaks directly to people's souls, disclosing all truth. If people would tune their intuition, they would touch the divine. He goes on to claim that praying for help is false prayer. He also dismisses the Bible as a source of God's revelation. These ideas ignore the Bible's teachings on the sinfulness of man and holiness of God. They also ignore the Bible's teachings on prayer and warnings about false teachers.

At first this essay appeals because it rings true to the ideas taught in America. However closer evaluation shows the ideas are not true to Scripture. The essay is worth reading for the perspective it offers on American self-reliance, but it should be read with caution and not blindly accepted.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Dayo (new)

Dayo Adewoye I love your comment on the essay. I think it's very sound and accurate.


message 2: by Tim (new)

Tim Like you are blindly accepting that scripture as the word of god or that it must be followed in the first place. Your arguments are flawed because you call out Emerson for so easily dismissing your beloved book yet all you say is that it is the word of god and that it must be followed. You give no backing to your arguments and expect him to do so.


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