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Self-Reliance by Emerson

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Emerson is arguably the single most important American thinker in the history of this country. Self-Reliance is one of his finest essays.

This is required reading for the modern independent scholar.

Emerson's influence is so profound we hardly notice it today; he produced left-wing Emersonians and right-wing Emersonians. In the words of Harold Bloom:

The Emersonian vision of self-reliance inspired both the humane philosopher, John Dewey, and the first Henry Ford (circulator of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion ). Emerson remains the central figure in American culture and informs our politics, as well as our unofficial religion, which I regard as more Emersonian than Christian, despite nearly all received opinion on this matter.

Before meeting, you will read Self-Reliance from Emerson's collected essays. Free versions of the text are readily available in the public domain.

While reading, please prepare some written observations, or at the very least some questions for discussion.

I'll begin with some remarks on why I find this piece so tremendous, but these meetings are primarily for you to develop your own ideas around the material.