From studying this passage, we can see that Emerson believed that the act of solitude was the one single technique through which a person can be fully and completely engaged in the natural world.
In a more spiritual sense, you could say that Emerson finds in nature a purer, more fluid, all encompassing spirituality than the man made construction imposed by certain human parties like the organised churches. His attitude towards the all-encompassing property of nature can be best identified in this passage:.
I seem to partake its rapid transformations; the active enchantment reaches my dust, and I dilate and conspire with the morning wind. He stresses the point that nature should be as worshipped and glorified as the figure of Jesus Christ on the cross, postulating that the happiest men in the world are those who can learn the practise of worship through their reverent relationship with the natural world.
His defining and echoing statement is that all things must be moral and spiritual, and the most important and ideal balance can be found in the glory of nature.
The beauty of nature shines in his own breast. Man is greater that he can see this, and the universe less, because Time and Space relations vanish as laws are known. Here again we are impressed and even daunted by the immense Universe to be explored. Passing by many particulars of the discipline of nature, we must not omit to specify two.
The exercise of the Will or the lesson of power is taught in every event. From the child's successive possession of his several senses up to the hour when he saith, "Thy will be done! Nature is thoroughly mediate. It is made to serve. It receives the dominion of man as meekly as the ass on which the Saviour rode. It offers all its kingdoms to man as the raw material which he may mould into what is useful. Man is never weary of working it up. He forges the subtile and delicate air into wise and melodious words, and gives them wing as angels of persuasion and command.
One after another, his victorious thought comes up with and reduces all things, until the world becomes, at last, only a realized will, -- the double of the man. Sensible objects conform to the premonitions of Reason and reflect the conscience.
All things are moral; and in their boundless changes have an unceasing reference to spiritual nature. Therefore is nature glorious with form, color, and motion, that every globe in the remotest heaven; every chemical change from the rudest crystal up to the laws of life; every change of vegetation from the first principle of growth in the eye of a leaf, to the tropical forest and antediluvian coal-mine; every animal function from the sponge up to Hercules, shall hint or thunder to man the laws of right and wrong, and echo the Ten Commandments.
Therefore is nature ever the ally of Religion: Prophet and priest, David, Isaiah, Jesus, have drawn deeply from this source. This ethical character so penetrates the bone and marrow of nature, as to seem the end for which it was made.
Whatever private purpose is answered by any member or part, this is its public and universal function, and is never omitted. Nothing in nature is exhausted in its first use. When a thing has served an end to the uttermost, it is wholly new for an ulterior service. In God, every end is converted into a new means. Thus the use of commodity, regarded by itself, is mean and squalid. But it is to the mind an education in the doctrine of Use, namely, that a thing is good only so far as it serves; that a conspiring of parts and efforts to the production of an end, is essential to any being.
The first and gross manifestation of this truth, is our inevitable and hated training in values and wants, in corn and meat. It has already been illustrated, that every natural process is a version of a moral sentence. The moral law lies at the centre of nature and radiates to the circumference. It is the pith and marrow of every substance, every relation, and every process.
All things with which we deal, preach to us. What is a farm but a mute gospel? The chaff and the wheat, weeds and plants, blight, rain, insects, sun, -- it is a sacred emblem from the first furrow of spring to the last stack which the snow of winter overtakes in the fields.
But the sailor, the shepherd, the miner, the merchant, in their several resorts, have each an experience precisely parallel, and leading to the same conclusion: Nor can it be doubted that this moral sentiment which thus scents the air, grows in the grain, and impregnates the waters of the world, is caught by man and sinks into his soul.
The moral influence of nature upon every individual is that amount of truth which it illustrates to him. Who can estimate this? Who can guess how much firmness the sea-beaten rock has taught the fisherman? What a searching preacher of self-command is the varying phenomenon of Health!
Herein is especially apprehended the unity of Nature, -- the unity in variety, -- which meets us everywhere. All the endless variety of things make an identical impression.
Xenophanes complained in his old age, that, look where he would, all things hastened back to Unity. He was weary of seeing the same entity in the tedious variety of forms. The fable of Proteus has a cordial truth. A leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole. Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world. Not only resemblances exist in things whose analogy is obvious, as when we detect the type of the human hand in the flipper of the fossil saurus, but also in objects wherein there is great superficial unlikeness.
Thus architecture is called "frozen music," by De Stael and Goethe. Vitruvius thought an architect should be a musician. In Haydn's oratorios, the notes present to the imagination not only motions, as, of the snake, the stag, and the elephant, but colors also; as the green grass. The law of harmonic sounds reappears in the harmonic colors. The granite is differenced in its laws only by the more or less of heat, from the river that wears it away. The river, as it flows, resembles the air that flows over it; the air resembles the light which traverses it with more subtile currents; the light resembles the heat which rides with it through Space.
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. 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.
For, it pervades Thought also. Every universal truth which we express in words, implies or supposes every other truth. Omne verum vero consonat. 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 seen from one side. But it has innumerable sides. The central Unity is still more conspicuous in actions. Words are finite organs of the infinite mind. They cannot cover the dimensions of what is in truth. They break, chop, and impoverish it. An action is the perfection and publication of thought. A right action seems to fill the eye, and to be related to all nature.
They introduce us to the human form, of which all other organizations appear to be degradations. When this appears among so many that surround it, the spirit prefers it to all others. Unfortunately, every one of them bears the marks as of some injury; is marred and superficially defective.
Nevertheless, far different from the deaf and dumb nature around them, these all rest like fountain-pipes on the unfathomed sea of thought and virtue whereto they alone, of all organizations, are the entrances. It were a pleasant inquiry to follow into detail their ministry to our education, but where would it stop? We are associated in adolescent and adult life with some friends, who, like skies and waters, are coextensive with our idea; who, answering each to a certain affection of the soul, satisfy our desire on that side; whom we lack power to put at such focal distance from us, that we can mend or even analyze them.
We cannot choose but love them. When much intercourse with a friend has supplied us with a standard of excellence, and has increased our respect for the resources of God who thus sends a real person to outgo our ideal; when he has, moreover, become an object of thought, and, whilst his character retains all its unconscious effect, is converted in the mind into solid and sweet wisdom, -- it is a sign to us that his office is closing, and he is commonly withdrawn from our sight in a short time.
To this one end of Discipline, all parts of nature conspire. A noble doubt perpetually suggests itself, whether this end be not the Final Cause of the Universe; and whether nature outwardly exists. It is a sufficient account of that Appearance we call the World, that God will teach a human mind, and so makes it the receiver of a certain number of congruent sensations, which we call sun and moon, man and woman, house and trade.
In my utter impotence to test the authenticity of the report of my senses, to know whether the impressions they make on me correspond with outlying objects, what difference does it make, whether Orion is up there in heaven, or some god paints the image in the firmament of the soul? The relations of parts and the end of the whole remaining the same, what is the difference, whether land and sea interact, and worlds revolve and intermingle without number or end, -- deep yawning under deep, and galaxy balancing galaxy, throughout absolute space, -- or, whether, without relations of time and space, the same appearances are inscribed in the constant faith of man?
Whether nature enjoy a substantial existence without, or is only in the apocalypse of the mind, it is alike useful and alike venerable to me. Be it what it may, it is ideal to me, so long as I cannot try the accuracy of my senses. The frivolous make themselves merry with the Ideal theory, as if its consequences were burlesque; as if it affected the stability of nature.
It surely does not. God never jests with us, and will not compromise the end of nature, by permitting any inconsequence in its procession. Any distrust of the permanence of laws, would paralyze the faculties of man.
Their permanence is sacredly respected, and his faith therein is perfect. The wheels and springs of man are all set to the hypothesis of the permanence of nature. We are not built like a ship to be tossed, but like a house to stand. It is a natural consequence of this structure, that, so long as the active powers predominate over the reflective, we resist with indignation any hint that nature is more short-lived or mutable than spirit.
The broker, the wheelwright, the carpenter, the toll-man, are much displeased at the intimation. But whilst we acquiesce entirely in the permanence of natural laws, the question of the absolute existence of nature still remains open.
It is the uniform effect of culture on the human mind, not to shake our faith in the stability of particular phenomena, as of heat, water, azote; but to lead us to regard nature as a phenomenon, not a substance; to attribute necessary existence to spirit; to esteem nature as an accident and an effect. To the senses and the unrenewed understanding, belongs a sort of instinctive belief in the absolute existence of nature.
In their view, man and nature are indissolubly joined. Things are ultimates, and they never look beyond their sphere. The presence of Reason mars this faith. The first effort of thought tends to relax this despotism of the senses, which binds us to nature as if we were a part of it, and shows us nature aloof, and, as it were, afloat. Until this higher agency intervened, the animal eye sees, with wonderful accuracy, sharp outlines and colored surfaces.
When the eye of Reason opens, to outline and surface are at once added, grace and expression. These proceed from imagination and affection, and abate somewhat of the angular distinctness of objects. If the Reason be stimulated to more earnest vision, outlines and surfaces become transparent, and are no longer seen; causes and spirits are seen through them. The best moments of life are these delicious awakenings of the higher powers, and the reverential withdrawing of nature before its God.
Let us proceed to indicate the effects of culture. Our first institution in the Ideal philosophy is a hint from nature herself. Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us. Certain mechanical changes, a small alteration in our local position apprizes us of a dualism. We are strangely affected by seeing the shore from a moving ship, from a balloon, or through the tints of an unusual sky.
The least change in our point of view, gives the whole world a pictorial air. A man who seldom rides, needs only to get into a coach and traverse his own town, to turn the street into a puppet-show. The men, the women, -- talking, running, bartering, fighting, -- the earnest mechanic, the lounger, the beggar, the boys, the dogs, are unrealized at once, or, at least, wholly detached from all relation to the observer, and seen as apparent, not substantial beings.
What new thoughts are suggested by seeing a face of country quite familiar, in the rapid movement of the rail-road car! Nay, the most wonted objects, make a very slight change in the point of vision, please us most. In a camera obscura, the butcher's cart, and the figure of one of our own family amuse us.
So a portrait of a well-known face gratifies us. Turn the eyes upside down, by looking at the landscape through your legs, and how agreeable is the picture, though you have seen it any time these twenty years! In these cases, by mechanical means, is suggested the difference between the observer and the spectacle, -- between man and nature. Hence arises a pleasure mixed with awe; I may say, a low degree of the sublime is felt from the fact, probably, that man is hereby apprized, that, whilst the world is a spectacle, something in himself is stable.
In a higher manner, the poet communicates the same pleasure. By a few strokes he delineates, as on air, the sun, the mountain, the camp, the city, the hero, the maiden, not different from what we know them, but only lifted from the ground and afloat before the eye.
He unfixes the land and the sea, makes them revolve around the axis of his primary thought, and disposes them anew. Possessed himself by a heroic passion, he uses matter as symbols of it. The sensual man conforms thoughts to things; the poet conforms things to his thoughts. The one esteems nature as rooted and fast; the other, as fluid, and impresses his being thereon.
To him, the refractory world is ductile and flexible; he invests dust and stones with humanity, and makes them the words of the Reason. The Imagination may be defined to be, the use which the Reason makes of the material world. Shakspeare possesses the power of subordinating nature for the purposes of expression, beyond all poets. His imperial muse tosses the creation like a bauble from hand to hand, and uses it to embody any caprice of thought that is upper-most in his mind.
The remotest spaces of nature are visited, and the farthest sundered things are brought together, by a subtle spiritual connection. We are made aware that magnitude of material things is relative, and all objects shrink and expand to serve the passion of the poet. Thus, in his sonnets, the lays of birds, the scents and dyes of flowers, he finds to be the shadow of his beloved; time, which keeps her from him, is his chest ; the suspicion she has awakened, is her ornament ; The ornament of beauty is Suspect, A crow which flies in heaven's sweetest air.
His passion is not the fruit of chance; it swells, as he speaks, to a city, or a state. No, it was builded far from accident; It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls Under the brow of thralling discontent; It fears not policy, that heretic, That works on leases of short numbered hours, But all alone stands hugely politic In the strength of his constancy, the Pyramids seem to him recent and transitory.
The freshness of youth and love dazzles him with its resemblance to morning. Take those lips away Which so sweetly were forsworn; And those eyes, -- the break of day, Lights that do mislead the morn.
The wild beauty of this hyperbole, I may say, in passing, it would not be easy to match in literature. This transfiguration which all material objects undergo through the passion of the poet, -- this power which he exerts to dwarf the great, to magnify the small, -- might be illustrated by a thousand examples from his Plays. I have before me the Tempest, and will cite only these few lines. The strong based promontory Have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up The pine and cedar.
Prospero calls for music to soothe the frantic Alonzo, and his companions; A solemn air, and the best comforter To an unsettled fancy, cure thy brains Now useless, boiled within thy skull.
Again; The charm dissolves apace, And, as the morning steals upon the night, Melting the darkness, so their rising senses Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle Their clearer reason. Their understanding Begins to swell: The perception of real affinities between events, that is to say, of ideal affinities, for those only are real, enables the poet thus to make free with the most imposing forms and phenomena of the world, and to assert the predominance of the soul.
Whilst thus the poet animates nature with his own thoughts, he differs from the philosopher only herein, that the one proposes Beauty as his main end; the other Truth. But the philosopher, not less than the poet, postpones the apparent order and relations of things to the empire of thought. That law, when in the mind, is an idea. Its beauty is infinite. The true philosopher and the true poet are one, and a beauty, which is truth, and a truth, which is beauty, is the aim of both.
Is not the charm of one of Plato's or Aristotle's definitions, strictly like that of the Antigone of Sophocles? It is, in both cases, that a spiritual life has been imparted to nature; that the solid seeming block of matter has been pervaded and dissolved by a thought; that this feeble human being has penetrated the vast masses of nature with an informing soul, and recognised itself in their harmony, that is, seized their law.
In physics, when this is attained, the memory disburthens itself of its cumbrous catalogues of particulars, and carries centuries of observation in a single formula. Thus even in physics, the material is degraded before the spiritual. The astronomer, the geometer, rely on their irrefragable analysis, and disdain the results of observation. The sublime remark of Euler on his law of arches, "This will be found contrary to all experience, yet is true;" had already transferred nature into the mind, and left matter like an outcast corpse.
Intellectual science has been observed to beget invariably a doubt of the existence of matter. Turgot said, "He that has never doubted the existence of matter, may be assured he has no aptitude for metaphysical inquiries. Whilst we wait in this Olympus of gods, we think of nature as an appendix to the soul. We ascend into their region, and know that these are the thoughts of the Supreme Being. When he prepared the heavens, they were there; when he established the clouds above, when he strengthened the fountains of the deep.
Then they were by him, as one brought up with him. Of them took he counsel. As objects of science, they are accessible to few men. Yet all men are capable of being raised by piety or by passion, into their region.
And no man touches these divine natures, without becoming, in some degree, himself divine. Like a new soul, they renew the body. We become physically nimble and lightsome; we tread on air; life is no longer irksome, and we think it will never be so. No man fears age or misfortune or death, in their serene company, for he is transported out of the district of change. Whilst we behold unveiled the nature of Justice and Truth, we learn the difference between the absolute and the conditional or relative.
We apprehend the absolute. As it were, for the first time, we exist. We become immortal, for we learn that time and space are relations of matter; that, with a perception of truth, or a virtuous will, they have no affinity. Finally, religion and ethics, which may be fitly called, -- the practice of ideas, or the introduction of ideas into life, -- have an analogous effect with all lower culture, in degrading nature and suggesting its dependence on spirit.
Ethics and religion differ herein; that the one is the system of human duties commencing from man; the other, from God. Religion includes the personality of God; Ethics does not. They are one to our present design. They both put nature under foot. The first and last lesson of religion is, "The things that are seen, are temporal; the things that are unseen, are eternal.
It does that for the unschooled, which philosophy does for Berkeley and Viasa. The uniform language that may be heard in the churches of the most ignorant sects, is,"Contemn the unsubstantial shows of the world; they are vanities, dreams, shadows, unrealities; seek the realities of religion.
Some theosophists have arrived at a certain hostility and indignation towards matter, as the Manichean and Plotinus. They distrusted in themselves any looking back to these flesh-pots of Egypt. Plotinus was ashamed of his body. In short, they might all say of matter, what Michael Angelo said of external beauty, "it is the frail and weary weed, in which God dresses the soul, which he has called into time.
But I own there is something ungrateful in expanding too curiously the particulars of the general proposition, that all culture tends to imbue us with idealism. I have no hostility to nature, but a child's love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.
Let us speak her fair. I do not wish to fling stones at my beautiful mother, nor soil my gentle nest. I only wish to indicate the true position of nature in regard to man, wherein to establish man, all right education tends; as the ground which to attain is the object of human life, that is, of man's connection with nature.
Culture inverts the vulgar views of nature, and brings the mind to call that apparent, which it uses to call real, and that real, which it uses to call visionary. Children, it is true, believe in the external world.
The belief that it appears only, is an afterthought, but with culture, this faith will as surely arise on the mind as did the first. The advantage of the ideal theory over the popular faith, is this, that it presents the world in precisely that view which is most desirable to the mind.
It is, in fact, the view which Reason, both speculative and practical, that is, philosophy and virtue, take. For, seen in the light of thought, the world always is phenomenal; and virtue subordinates it to the mind.
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. Therefore the soul holds itself off from a too trivial and microscopic study of the universal tablet.
It respects the end too much, to immerse itself in the means. It sees something more important in Christianity, than the scandals of ecclesiastical history, or the niceties of criticism; and, very incurious concerning persons or miracles, and not at all disturbed by chasms of historical evidence, it accepts from God the phenomenon, as it finds it, as the pure and awful form of religion in the world. It is not hot and passionate at the appearance of what it calls its own good or bad fortune, at the union or opposition of other persons.
No man is its enemy. It accepts whatsoever befalls, as part of its lesson. It is a watcher more than a doer, and it is a doer, only that it may the better watch. Uses that are exhausted or that may be, and facts that end in the statement, cannot be all that is true of this brave lodging wherein man is harbored, and wherein all his faculties find appropriate and endless exercise.
And all the uses of nature admit of being summed in one, which yields the activity of man an infinite scope. Through all its kingdoms, to the suburbs and outskirts of things, it is faithful to the cause whence it had its origin. It always speaks of Spirit. It suggests the absolute. It is a perpetual effect. It is a great shadow pointing always to the sun behind us.
The aspect of nature is devout. Like the figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head, and hands folded upon the breast. The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship. Of that ineffable essence which we call Spirit, he that thinks most, will say least. We can foresee God in the coarse, and, as it were, distant phenomena of matter; but when we try to define and describe himself, both language and thought desert us, and we are as helpless as fools and savages.
That essence refuses to be recorded in propositions, but when man has worshipped him intellectually, the noblest ministry of nature is to stand as the apparition of God. It is the organ through which the universal spirit speaks to the individual, and strives to lead back the individual to it. When we consider Spirit, we see that the views already presented do not include the whole circumference of man.
We must add some related thoughts. Three problems are put by nature to the mind; What is matter? The first of these questions only, the ideal theory answers. Idealism acquaints us with the total disparity between the evidence of our own being, and the evidence of the world's being.
The one is perfect; the other, incapable of any assurance; the mind is a part of the nature of things; the world is a divine dream, from which we may presently awake to the glories and certainties of day. Idealism is a hypothesis to account for nature by other principles than those of carpentry and chemistry. Yet, if it only deny the existence of matter, it does not satisfy the demands of the spirit. It leaves God out of me. It leaves me in the splendid labyrinth of my perceptions, to wander without end.
The poet, painter, sculptor, musician, and architect are all inspired by natural beauty and offer a unified vision in their work.
Art thus represents nature as distilled by man. Unlike the uses of nature described in "Commodity," the role of nature in satisfying man's desire for beauty is an end in itself. Beauty, like truth and goodness, is an expression of God. But natural beauty is an ultimate only inasmuch as it works as a catalyst upon the inner processes of man.
He first states that words represent particular facts in nature, which exists in part to give us language to express ourselves. He suggests that all words, even those conveying intellectual and moral meaning, can be etymologically traced back to roots originally attached to material objects or their qualities. Although this theory would not be supported by the modern study of linguistics, Emerson was not alone among his contemporaries in subscribing to it.
Over time, we have lost a sense of the particular connection of the first language to the natural world, but children and primitive people retain it to some extent. Not only are words symbolic, Emerson continues, but the natural objects that they represent are symbolic of particular spiritual states.
Human intellectual processes are, of necessity, expressed through language, which in its primal form was integrally connected to nature. Emerson asserts that there is universal understanding of the relationship between natural imagery and human thought. An all-encompassing universal soul underlies individual life. In language, God is, in a very real sense, accessible to all men. In his unique capacity to perceive the connectedness of everything in the universe, man enjoys a central position.
Man cannot be understood without nature, nor nature without man. In its origin, language was pure poetry, and clearly conveyed the relationship between material symbol and spiritual meaning. Emerson states that the same symbols form the original elements of all languages. And the moving power of idiomatic language and of the strong speech of simple men reminds us of the first dependence of language upon nature.
Modern man's ability to express himself effectively requires simplicity, love of truth, and desire to communicate efficiently. But because we have lost the sense of its origins, language has been corrupted. The man who speaks with passion or in images — like the poet or orator who maintains a vital connection with nature — expresses the workings of God. Finally, Emerson develops the idea that the whole of nature — not just its particulate verbal expressions — symbolizes spiritual reality and offers insight into the universal.
He writes of all nature as a metaphor for the human mind, and asserts that there is a one-to-one correspondence between moral and material laws. All men have access to understanding this correspondence and, consequently, to comprehending the laws of the universe.
Emerson employs the image of the circle — much-used in Nature — in stating that the visible world is the "terminus or circumference of the invisible world. Man may grasp the underlying meaning of the physical world by living harmoniously with nature, and by loving truth and virtue. Emerson concludes "Language" by stating that we understand the full meaning of nature by degrees. Nature as a discipline — a means of arriving at comprehension — forms the subject of Chapter V, "Discipline.
The ultimate result of such lessons is common sense. Emerson offers property and debt as materially based examples that teach necessary lessons through the understanding, and space and time as demonstrations of particularity and individuality, through which "we may know that things are not huddled and lumped, but sundered and individual.
The wise man recognizes the innate properties of objects and men, and the differences, gradations, and similarities among the manifold natural expressions. The practical arts and sciences make use of this wisdom. But as man progressively grasps the basic physical laws, he comes closer to understanding the laws of creation, and limiting concepts such as space and time lose their significance in his vision of the larger picture. Emerson emphasizes the place of human will — the expression of human power — in harnessing nature.
Nature is made to serve man. We take what is useful from it in forming a sense of the universe, giving greater or lesser weight to particular aspects to suit our purposes, even framing nature according to our own image of it.
Emerson goes on to discuss how intuitive reason provides insight into the ethical and spiritual meanings behind nature. Nature thus forms the proper basis for religion and ethics. Moreover, the uses of particular facets of nature as described in "Commodity" do not exhaust the lessons these aspects can teach; men may progress to perception of their higher meaning as well. Emerson depicts moral law as lying at the center of the circle of nature and radiating to the circumference. He asserts that man is particularly susceptible to the moral meaning of nature, and returns to the unity of all of nature's particulars.
Each object is a microcosm of the universe. Through analogies and resemblances between various expressions of nature, we perceive "its source in Universal Spirit. Emerson builds upon his circle imagery to suggest the all-encompassing quality of universal truth and the way it may be approached through all of its particulars.
Unity is even more apparent in action than in thought, which is expressed only imperfectly through language. Action, on the other hand, as "the perfection and publication of thought," expresses thought more directly. Because words and conscious actions are uniquely human attributes, Emerson holds humanity up as the pinnacle of nature, "incomparably the richest informations of the power and order that lie at the heart of things.
As an expression of nature, humanity, too, has its educational use in the progression toward understanding higher truth. At the beginning of Chapter VI, "Idealism," Emerson questions whether nature actually exists, whether God may have created it only as a perception in the human mind.
Having stated that the response to this question makes no difference in the usefulness of nature as an aid to human comprehension of the universal, Emerson concludes that the answer is ultimately unknowable. Whether real or not, he perceives nature as an ideal. Even if nature is not real, natural and universal laws nevertheless apply. However, the common man's faith in the permanence of natural laws is threatened by any hint that nature may not be real.
The senses and rational understanding contribute to the instinctive human tendency to regard nature as a reality. Men tend to view things as ultimates, not to look for a higher reality beyond them. But intuitive reason works against the unquestioned acceptance of concrete reality as the ultimate reality.
Intuition counteracts sensory knowledge, and highlights our intellectual and spiritual separateness from nature. As the intuition is increasingly awakened, we begin to perceive nature differently, to see the whole, the "causes and spirits," instead of individual forms.
Emerson explores idealism at length. He first points out that a change in perspective is caused by changes in environment or mechanical alterations such as viewing a familiar landscape from a moving railroad car , which heighten the sense of the difference between man and nature, the observer and the observed.
Altered perspective imparts a feeling that there is something constant within man, even though the world around him changes, sometimes due to his own action upon it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson Essays: Second Series  Nature. The rounded world is fair to see, Kenneth Marc. "Emerson's Second Nature," in Emerson: Prospect and Retrospect, , pp. See also Emerson's Nature Authors & Texts: Emerson: Essays.
Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nature because it balks the affections in denying substantive being to men and women. Nature is so pervaded with human life, that there is something of humanity in all, and in every particular. I shall therefore conclude this essay with some traditions of man and nature, which a certain poet sang to me; and which.
Published in , Nature is an essay written by American lecturer and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson that lays down the foundation for transcendentalism. Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay Words | 4 Pages. Ralph Waldo Emerson I am writing this essay on the beliefs and thoughts of Ralph Waldo Emerson on the subjects of individuality, society, government, technology, and spirituality.
Nature has been printed in numerous collections of Emerson's writings since its first publication, among them the Modern Library The Complete Essays and Other Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (edited by Brooks Atkinson), the Signet Classic Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (edited by William H. Gilman), and the Library of. Chapter II from Nature, published as part of Nature; Addresses and Lectures Summary: In his essay “Nature”, Ralph Waldo Emerson is of the view that nature and the beauty of nature can only be understood by a man when he.