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Flashcards in Emerson Deck (33):

To what British literary movement were the Transcendentalists indebted?

The Romantics

The Transcendentalists shared their views about the intuitiveness and creativity of the mind, and their reverence for nature.


When was "Nature" published?

First in 1836, and released in a new edition in 1849.


What feminist writer worked closely with Emerson?

Margaret Fuller


What was the name of the Transcendentalist journal run by Emerson, Fuller, and Thoreau?

The Dial


What cultural critique does "Nature" open with?

Emerson questions the cultural tendency to revere traditions and old philosophies rather than seeking to experience God and nature directly, for ourselves.


Nature: What are the two components of the universe?

1. The Soul

2. Nature (anything that is "Not Me")


Nature: What is Emerson's definition of "Art"?

"Art is nature in combination with the will of man."


Nature: To what does Emerson compare himself when he is successfully in touch with the divinity of Nature?

A Transparent Eyeball - "I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God."


Nature: What does Emerson address in the chapter "Commodity"?

He discusses how Nature provides for all the basic needs of man. The mind of man is able to combine and recombine the gifts of Nature for everything he needs.


Nature: What are Emerson's three aspects of Beauty?

1) physical beauty
2) moral beauty (or virtue)
3) intellectual beauty (or truth)


Nature: What is the love of beauty? The creation of beauty?

1.) Taste 2.) Art


Nature: On what argument are Emerson's views about language based?

Platonic Idealism


Nature: What are Emerson's three reasons Language is a product of Nature?

1. Words are signs of natural facts
2. Particular natural facts are symbols of particular spiritual facts
3. Nature is the symbol of the spirit


Nature: What is an example of a natural fact that is a symbol for a spiritual fact?

A lamb = innocence

An angry man = a lion

Flowers = grades of affection


Nature: What is Emerson's argument in "Discipline"?

That our lived experience in Nature is an education in understanding intellectual ("Understanding"/logical) and moral truth ("Reason"/intuitive).


Nature: Which figure from the Quals list does Emerson quote in "Discipline"?

Bacon - "good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they be executed" (Of Great Place).


Nature: What is Emerson's belief about Universal Truth?

"Every universal truth which we express in words, implies or supposes every other truth." This is the Unity in Nature, or Unity in Variety.


Nature: What does Emerson mean by Discipline?

The means of arriving at comprehension


Nature: What question is explored in "Idealism"?

Is there a higher law behind nature, and does visible nature really exist?


Nature: What does Emerson conclude in "Idealism"?

He says that the question of "absolute existence" remains open, but lists aspects that convince us of the reality of the external world.

1. motion
2. poetry
3. philosophy
4. Intellectual science
5. religion and ethics


Nature: In "Spirit," what does Emerson claim Idealism does?

It helps us think about the distinctions between ourselves and Nature.


Nature: What can we do once we recognize the distinction between ourselves and Nature?

We can explore their relation to each other - how the spirit acts through us.


Nature: What are the three questions Emerson explores in "Spirit"?

What is matter?

Where does it come from?

What is its purpose?

In seeking to answer these questions, we come across many truths.


Nature: What does Emerson argue in "Prospects"?

That is is better to be a naturalist than a student of empirical science - a naturalist remains open to intuition and the secrets of nature. In trying to define everything about Nature, we may miss out on some of its important truths.


Nature: What famous phrase appears in "Prospects," and what does it mean?

"A man is a God in ruins."

Men have access to the divine, though our understanding is imperfect. Through intuition and seeking truth in Nature we can be more in tune with this inner divinity.


Self-Reliance: For what does Emerson make an argument in this essay?

Individualism against everything else. Society will try to make you conform, but you must trust yourself. We must rely on ourselves for occupation, virtue, activity - everything. If we trust ourselves, and commit to being nonconformists, we cannot go wrong.

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principals."


The Poet: For what does Emerson call for in this essay?

A poet in touch with the true and particular spirit of America.

"Yet America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles our imagination, and it will not wait long for metres."


The Poet: What poet famously answers Emerson's call?

Walt Whitman


The Poet: When was this first published?

In 1844, in "Essays"


The Poet: What is poetry, for Emerson? The poet?

The expression of the soul which is accessible to all. The poet is the "sayer" or "namer" of these truths - not the creator.


The Poet: What does each new age require?

"The experience of each new age requires a new confession, and the world seems always waiting for its poet."


The Poet: What argument is made about language in this essay?

"Language is fossil poetry" - words/language were made by poets to describe the times in which they lived. Language has shifted over time, so that these true/natural origins are more or less detectable in certain words.

Poets can make old uses of words forgotten by using them to illuminate new or different truths of the current age. They "unlock our chains and admit us to a new scene."


The Poet: What are Emerson's views on form?

That it is not important as long as the poem conveys Truth.