Self-Reliance - Study Guide Paragraphs 9-18 Summary & Analysis

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Emerson points out that it is easier to live as one wishes while alone and as others wish while among them, but he says that the most difficult task is to live as one wishes while among others. Living the way others think one should wastes the energy one needs to accomplish one's own purpose. In staying focused on one's own goals, one reinforces those goals. If one belongs to a particular group or believes a particular doctrine, and someone wishes to argue with one, then he already knows what arguments one is likely to offer. This weakens the case. When a man chooses to join a particular community or sect, it makes it difficult to trust his ideas because the man is merely repeating the "party line." Likewise, when a man is surrounded by others of the community, he must smile and...

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