Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson - Study Guide Nature Summary & Analysis

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Nature is Emerson's first essay publication (1836) in which he expostulates the foundations of what would later be known as transcendentalism. One of the basic beliefs is that through solitude and immersion in nature, man can develop his spiritual awareness of a divine power. In solitude, one is able to see more clearly the hand of an ultimate creator in the forms and functions of nature—stripped of the human need for property, rank and power.

Emerson separates the world into four categories: commodity, or "all those advantages which our senses owe to nature;" beauty (both manmade and natural); language as "a vehicle of thought;" and discipline which is apparent in nature as well as orderly human affairs. Idealism, according to Emerson, is the natural result of discipline. Emerson's transcendentalism is one step removed from pantheism, which holds that living creatures are actually gods, and...

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