Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson Themes

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Man and Nature

For this transcendentalist, nature is the face of God—the palpable presence of a divine power that can be experienced directly by man. There are two essays in this collection titled "Nature," the first published in 1836 and the second in 1844. in the first essay, Emerson describes man's position as part of the "oversoul," or divine power that links all creatures in their physical and spiritual forms. The purpose of natural history, Emerson says, "is to give us aid in supernatural history: the use of the outer creation to give us language for the beings and changes of the inward creation." By use of the word "supernatural," it appears that Emerson refers specifically to the oversoul—with or without psychic mediums, seances and reading of tea leaves. The sense of his essay is that, when joined physically with nature, man feels not only a physical...

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