Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said that Emerson's work provided "America’s declaration of intellectual independence". We can see this in his essays "The American Scholar" and "Self-Reliance." Here are questions:
- What is especially "American" about these essays?
- Is self-reliance just selfishness?
- Emerson writes, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do." What does Emerson mean my this? Do you agree?
- Emerson articulates a form of individualism in these essays and is critical of society. What is society for Emerson? Why is he so critical of it?