Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College


Added on by jay odenbaugh.

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:

  1. What is especially "American" about these essays? 
  2. Is self-reliance just selfishness?
  3. 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? 
  4. 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? 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson