Self-Reliance Essay

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In the following essay excerpt, Packer examines Emerson's prescription for self-reform in "Self-Reliance," including some seeming contradictions between his advocation of self and spirituality.

To learn how to achieve this double abandonment we must turn to the best known of Emerson's essays, "Self-Reliance." If "Circles" was an attempt to discern the general laws governing human behavior, "Self Reliance" is an attempt to formulate a code of conduct for the individual believer, to answer the question: "What shall I do to be saved?"

Emerson had always conceived of the principle of self-reliance as an answer to the problem of individual salvation; one of his earliest explorations of the topic, a sermon entitled "Trust Yourself," was preached as a commentary upon Matthew 16:26:"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" In it Emerson had used a passage from an early...

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This section contains 4,053 words
(approx. 11 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Self-Reliance Study Guide
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