In view of the significance of nature, we arrive at once at a new fact, that nature is a discipline. This use of the world includes the preceding uses, as parts of itself. Space, time, society, labor, climate, food, locomotion, the animals, the mechanical forces, give us sincerest lessons, day by . The Relationship between Man and Nature in Emerson and Thoreau Part 5 Words | 5 Pages. Compare and contrast the relationship between man and nature in Emerson and Thoreau? Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25th, and died on April He was a poet, lecturer and essay writer. “Nature” is a thought-provoking essay that describes his abstract thoughts about humanity’s relationship with nature. At first, he argues for a new approach to understanding nature by defining. How he defines nature is the start of his new approach to how he understands nature. But throughout the essay, Emerson refers to man's separateness from nature through his intellectual and spiritual capacities. Man and nature share a special relationship. Each . Nature is the incarnation of a thought, and turns to a thought again, as ice becomes water and gas. The world is mind precipitated, and the volatile essence is forever escaping again .
Emerson makes clear in the Introduction that men should break away from reliance on secondhand information, upon the wisdom of the past, upon inherited and institutionalized knowledge: Our age is retrospective.
It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? According to Emerson, people in the past had an intimate and immediate relationship with God and nature, and arrived at their own understanding of the universe.
All the basic elements that they required to do so exist at every moment in time. Emerson continues in the Introduction, "The sun shines to-day also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship. For Emerson and for Thoreau as well , each moment provides an opportunity to learn from nature and to approach an understanding of universal order through it.
The importance of the present moment, of spontaneous and dynamic interactions with the universe, of the possibilities of the here and now, render past observations and schemes irrelevant.
Emerson focuses on the accessibility of the laws of the universe to every individual through a combination of nature and his own inner processes. In "Language," for example, he states that the relation between spirit and matter "is not fancied by some poet, but stands in the will of God, and so is free to be known by all men. And at the end of the essay, in "Prospects," he exhorts, "Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect.
Just as men in the past explored universal relations for themselves, so may each of us, great and small, in the present: But whichever mental process illuminates a given object of attention at a given time, insight into universal order always takes place in the mind of the individual, through his own experience of nature and inner powers of receptiveness. Unity of God, Man, and Nature Throughout Nature, Emerson calls for a vision of the universe as an all-encompassing whole, embracing man and nature, matter and spirit, as interrelated expressions of God.
This unity is referred to as the Oversoul elsewhere in Emerson's writings. The purpose of the new, direct understanding of nature that he advocates in the essay is, ultimately, the perception of the totality of the universal whole. At present, Emerson suggests, we have a fragmented view of the world. We cannot perceive our proper place in it because we have lost a sense of the unifying spiritual element that forms the common bond between the divine, the human, and the material.
But if we approach nature properly, we may transcend our current focus on isolated parts and gain insight into the whole.
Emerson does not offer a comprehensive scheme of the components and workings of God's creation. Instead, he recommends an approach by which we may each arrive at our own vision of totality. Emerson asserts and reasserts the underlying unity of distinct, particulate expressions of the divine. In the Introduction, he emphasizes man's and nature's parallel positions as manifestations of the universal order, and consequently as means of understanding that order.
He elaborates upon the origins in God of both man and nature in "Discipline," in which he discusses evidence of essential unity in the similarities between various natural objects and between the various laws that govern them: Each creature is only a modification of the other; the likeness in them is more than the difference, and their radical law is one and the same.
Hence it is, that a rule of one art, or a law of one organization, holds true throughout nature. So intimate is this Unity, that, it is easily seen, it lies under the undermost garment of nature, and betrays its source in universal Spirit.
Our striving to comprehend nature more spiritually will illuminate natural order and the relationships within it as manifestations of God. In "Idealism," Emerson stresses the advantages of the ideal theory of nature the approach to nature as a projection by God onto the human mind rather than as a concrete reality.
Idealism makes God an integral element in our understanding of nature, and provides a comprehensively inclusive view: Idealism sees the world in God. It beholds the whole circle of persons and things, of actions and events, of country and religion, not as painfully accumulated, atom after atom, act after act, in an aged creeping Past, but as one vast picture, which God paints on the instant eternity, for the contemplation of the soul.
Spiritualization, hastened by inspired insight, will heal the fragmentization that plagues us.
Thoreau, Emerson, and Transcendentalism
Emerson writes in "Prospects": He cannot be a naturalist, until he satisfies all the demands of the spirit. Throughout Nature, Emerson uses analogy and imagery to advance the conceptof universal unity.
In Chapter I, he suggests, through the analogy of the landscape, the transformation of particulate information into a whole. Regarded from a transcendent, "poetical" point of view, the many individual forms that comprise the landscape become less distinct and form an integrated totality. In addition to the poet, the painter, the sculptor, the musician, and the architect are all particularly sensitive to perceiving wholes.
Emerson also uses the imagery of the circle extensively to convey the all-encompassing, perfect self-containment of the universe. For example, in "Beauty," he describes the way in which the structure of the eye and the laws of light conspire to create perspective: By the mutual action of [the eye's] structure and of the laws of light, perspective is produced, which integrates every mass of objects, of what character soever, into a well colored and shaded globe, so that where the particular objects are mean and unaffecting, the landscape which they compose, is round and symmetrical.
In discussing the similarities between natural objects and between natural laws in "Discipline," Emerson reiterates and expands the image, making it more complex and comprehensive: It is like a great circle on a sphere, comprising all possible circles; which, however, may be drawn, and comprise it, in like manner. Every such truth is the absolute Ens [that is, being or entity] seen from one side.
But it has innumerable sides. The circle is thus not only all-encompassing, but allows multiple approaches to the whole. Emerson develops the idea of each particle of nature as a microcosm reflecting the whole, and as such a point of access to the universal.
Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world. The idea of microcosm is important in Emerson's approach to nature, as it is in Thoreau's. Because the parts represent the whole in miniature, it is consequently not necessary to see all of the parts to understand the whole.
Through an insight akin to revelation, man may understand the "big picture" from just one example in nature. We need not be slaves to detail to understand the meaning that detail conveys. Reason and Understanding From the beginning to the end of Nature, Emerson stresses the particular importance of the intuitive type of comprehension, which he calls "Reason," in the terminology of English Romantic poetry.
Reason is required to penetrate the universal laws and the divine mind. At the beginning of the Introduction, he calls for "a poetry and philosophy of insight" and "a religion by revelation" — his first references to intuition in the essay. Kantian "Reason" is linked with spiritual truth, Lockean "Understanding" with the laws of nature. Because Nature is a kind of manual for spiritualization, Reason holds a higher place in it than Understanding. Although Understanding is essential for the perception of material laws and in its application promotes a progressively broader vision, it does not by itself lead man to God.
In "Beauty," "Language," and "Discipline," Emerson examines Reason's revelation to man of the larger picture behind the multiplicity of details in the material world.
In "Beauty," he describes the stimulation of the human intellect by natural beauty. He offers artistic creativity as the extreme love of and response to natural beauty. Art is developed in the essay as an insightful synthesis of parts into a whole, as are such other expressions of human creativity as poetry and architecture.
The intuitively inspired formation of this sense of wholeness is similar to the comprehension of universal law, the ultimate goal advocated in Nature.
In "Language," he describes the symbolism of original language as based on natural fact, and the integral relationship between language, nature, and spirit. He identifies Reason as the faculty that provides apprehension of spirit through natural symbols, and connects spirit with the universal soul itself: Man is conscious of a universal soul within or behind his individual life. This universal soul, he calls Reason: And the blue sky in which the private earth is buried, the sky with its eternal calm, and full of everlasting orbs, is the type of Reason.
That which, intellectually considered, we call Reason, considered in relation to nature, we call Spirit. Spirit is the Creator. Spirit hath life in itself. And man in all ages and countries, embodies it in his language.
Reason, which imparts both vision into the absolute and also creative force as well, is thus presented more as God's reaching out into man than as an active capacity solely within man.
Commitment to Privacy
In "Prospects," Emerson implores his readers to trust in Reason as a means of approaching universal truth. He writes of matutina cognitio — morning knowledge — as the knowledge of God, as opposed to vespertina cognitio — evening knowledge, or the knowledge of man. This concept of morning knowledge is echoed in Thoreau's writings in the heightened awareness that Thoreau presents in connection with the morning hours.
It is a spiritual, enhanced, spontaneous insight into higher truth. In "Prospects," Emerson puts forward examples of intuition at work — the "traditions of miracles," the life of Jesus, transforming action based on principle such as the abolition of slavery , the "miracles of enthusiasm, as those.
Emerson explores at length the difference between Understanding and Reason. Both serve to instruct man. However, Understanding is tied to matter and leads to common sense rather than to the broadest vision. Emerson grants that as man advances in his grasp of natural laws, he comes closer to understanding the laws of creation.
But Reason is essential to transport man out of the material world into the spiritual. In "Idealism," Emerson asserts that intuition works against acceptance of concrete reality as ultimate reality, thereby promoting spiritualization. In "Spirit," Emerson presents the notion of the mystical and intuitively understood "universal essence" a potent, comprehensive life force which, expressed in man through nature's agency, confers tremendous power: Who can set bounds to the possibilities of man?
Once inhale the upper air, being admitted to behold the absolute natures of justice and truth, and we learn that man has access to the entire mind of the Creator, is himself the creator in the finite. Reason provides perception of God's creation and a direct link with God, and reinforces the divine within man. It bestows on man an exalted status in the world. And man's identification with God, his elevation through vision, underlies Emerson's sense of nature as a tool for human development.