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Transcendentalism and "Self Reliance"

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on 12 November 2013

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Transcript of Transcendentalism and "Self Reliance"

Transcendentalism and "Self Reliance"
Transcendentalism Review
"Transcendentalism (a philosophy of romantic idealism) called to the individual to achieve not material, but spiritual; greatness, to search for basic truths which come from the individual's own intuition and faith rather than from reason alone. Transcendental writers expressed semi religious feelings towards nature, as well as creative process, and saw a direct connection between the universe and the individual. The purpose of human life was unison with the so-called Over-Soul. Their belief was that human happiness could be attained through connecting with nature and seeking out its beauties."
Time to think.......
Keeping in mind the ideas of Transcendentalism, listen to this song and write down ideas to discuss the song's connection to Transcendentalist ideals.
"Envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide"
How is envy ignorance? Why does Emerson make such a statement?
How do you feel about that statement in relation to "ignorance is bliss"? Would Emerson disagree with that? Why?
Why is imitation suicide?
How does that statement differ from "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"? Why would Emerson disagree with that?
"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."
What is the "iron string" to which each heart should "vibrate"?
Why do you think he chose this symbol of iron in this sentence?
What can one gain from trusting oneself?
Five Major Themes of Transcendentalism
The importance of nature
Free thought
"I Don't Want To Be"- Gavin DeGraw
"True virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion."
What literary term is in the sentence "society is a joint-stock company"? What does Emerson infer by comparing society to a joint-stock company? Do you agree/disagree?
How is conformity a virtue for society?
In what ways is self-reliance an aversion to conformity?
Is there a time and place when conforming is necessary? Do you think Emerson would approve of conformity in such a situation?
Self- Reliance in "The Hunger Games"
Would Emerson agree with Katniss or Peeta going into the arena? Why?
What in the text indicates that Emerson would agree to either side?
"Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world..."
According to Emerson, how does being a nonconformist keep the integrity of your mind?
What would Emerson say are some characteristics of a nonconformist? Why?
Do you consider yourself to be a conformist or a nonconformist? Only specific situations, or all the time?
"Dead Poets Society"
How can you be consciously aware that you are conforming?
What are examples in modern society that we are guilty of?
Are there ways to keep yourself "in check"? Would there be any benefits by keeping yourself "in check"?
"Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? ... To be great is to be misunderstood."
What does Emerson "approve" to be misunderstood? Why?
How can one benefit from being misunderstood?
What would Emerson qualify as being "great"? What do all of the "greats" that he mentioned have in common?
A "Great" of our time: Steve Jobs
What thoughts of Steve Jobs are similar to Emerson's? (Specific quotes)
If Emerson were alive today, would he consider Jobs to be among those that he lists? Why or why not?
(if we have time)
Group Discussion Questions
One person in each group needs an iPhone (if needed one group may use mine)
go to utilities -> voice memos
you will record all of you group discussion and email it to me! So make sure you stay on task!
I will give you a specified time limit.
Each group member must use at least two quotes to back up an idea/ideas (throughout the whole discussion) to get full credit
Once in groups you will have a few minutes to gather your thoughts and write ideas down
My email is: kelsey_joyce@my.uri.edu (write it down!)
Group Discussion Questions:
1. How does (and should) a person define his/her place in society as a self-reliant individual? (what does Emerson mean by "society" anyhow?)

2. What are the two major barriers to self-reliance (in your own words)? How does this concept modify the egotism of self-reliance?

3. What are the implications of self-reliance for business? for religion (prayers, etc.)? for traveling? for art? for property ownership and government?

4. What distinguishes self-reliance from selfishness? Do you see any points in the essay where Emerson seems to cross this line?

Reflect on ways you have been self-reliant in your life thus far. Was it successful or unsuccessful? What are some ways that you could be self-reliant in the future? If you cannot think of any times you have been self-reliant, think of a "great" of our time and how their self-reliance has impacted us. Use three quotes from the text that support ways you have been/plan to be/or have witnessed self-reliance.
Based on this song, what do you think self-reliance is?
Why is it an important aspect of transcendentalism?
Where do you see self-reliance being most predominantly used today?
"Rocky Balboa" and Confidence
Would Emerson agree with Rocky's message to his son? Why?
What from the text relates to Rocky's message?
"Mean Girls"
How does Gretchen's situation relate to "envy is ignorance:?
Would Emerson sympathize with her? Why? (ignore the fact that she is somewhat annoying)
Full transcript