ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY
Central Tehran Branch
Faculty of Foreign languages-English Department
A Thesis Submitted in the Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degrees of Master of Arts in English Literature
A Study of the Concepts ‘Unity’, ‘Individuality’ and
‘Microcosm’ in Emerson’s Selected Poems
Advisor:
Prof. Jalal Sokhanvar
Reader:
Dr. Alireza Jafari
Researcher:
Maryam Azvari Gahroee
2014-2015
Acknowledgement
It is a pleasure to thank those who made this thesis possible. Foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my advisor Professor Jalal Sokhanvar, for his patience to answer my questions through the study and research of this dissertation.
Beside my advisor, I would like to thank my reader, Dr. Alireza Jafari whose compassionate guidance enabled me to correct the mistakes that I had committed through my study and also for his help to improve it to a good academic thesis.
Last but not least, my gratitude goes to Mrs. Javan for her everlasting patience and support during my studies and accomplishment of this dissertation.
Abstract
The present study is an analysis of some of the poems of the thinker and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson in the light of his own philosophy. The study investigates the poems in terms of Emerson’s concepts of ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’. Actually, this study explores a new identity for the human being and other creatures in the world; the new identity that gives a broader view of the universe, God and man. Through the analysis of the poems in light of the notion of ‘unity’, it is discussed that the reality of the creatures of the universe is one essence that is ‘the Over-Soul’. Moreover, it is explained that there is interrelation among the objects of the world and also a connection between each creature and ‘the universal soul’ that Emerson names ‘the Over-Soul’. The poems also illustrate another concept i.e., ‘individuality’. It states that each person should make a personal relation to ‘the universal soul’ and finds the meaning of life and the reality of everything individually. Consequently, everyone through this relation realizes that ‘the Over-Soul’ is the essence of everything. Also, the poems reveal that the entire world is present in each creature and especially man, what Emerson names “microcosm”. Finally, the concepts through the poems bring a new identity to everything in the world as they have the overtone of the united spirit of the world or ‘the Over-Soul’ as the true identity of everything. This novel view toward everything and especially that of the human being helps him to have a broader and deeper view of life.
Table of Contents…………………………………………………………………………1
Acknowledgement…………………………………………………………………………………………………4
Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………………..5
Chapter One: Introduction…………………………………………………………………6
1.1. General Background………………………………………………………………………7
1.2. Statement of the Problem……………………………………………………………………………………….9
1.3. Objectives and Significance of the study………………………………………………………………….9
1.3.1. Hypothesis…………………………………………………………………….………..10
1.3.2. Significance of the Study……………………………………………………….……..10
1.3.3. Purpose of the Study …………………………………………………………….……..11
1.3.4. Research Questions……………………………………………………………………11
1.4. Review of Literature………………………………………………………………………12
1.5. Materials and Methodology………………………………………………………………16
1.5.1. Definition of Key Terms………………………………………………………………16
1.5.2. Motivation and Delimitation……………………………………………………………19
1.6. Thesis Outline……………………………………………………………………………………………………..20
Chapter Two: Emerson’s Philosophy……..…………………….…………………22
2.1. Emerson’s Philosophy……………………………………………………………………23
2.1.1. Unity in Emerson’s philosophy………….……….……………………………….……25
2.1.2. Individuality in Emerson’s philosophy……………………………………………………………… 32
2.1.3. Microcosm in Emerson’s philosophy……………………………………………………….38
Chapter Three: New Identity in Emerson’s Selected Poems………………….45
3.1. Unity in Emerson’s Philosophy………………………………………………………….47
3.1.1. Unity in “Each and All”……………………………………………………………….47
3.1.1.1. The Relation of Each and All to shape a unity……………………………………….48
3.1.1.2. Interrelatedness of all Things in the World …………………………………………48
3.1.1.3. To find the Truth through Beauty……………………………………………………52
3.1.1.4. Man is the Universal Reality…………………………………………………………53
3.1.1.5. The Foundation of a united Spirit……………………………………………………54
3.2.2. Unity in “The Sphinx”………………………………………………………………….55
3.2.2.1. Variety leads to Unity………………………………………………………………..56
3.2.2.2. Exploration of Universal truth through Intuition……………………………………58
3.2.2.3. Man is the answer to the question……………………………………………………59
3.2.2.4. Opposite notions find the same essence……………………………………………..61
3.2.3. Unity in “Xenophanes”………………………………………………………………..62
3.2.3.1. Variety Resolves into Unity…………………………………………………………..63
3.2.3.2. Each Element Introduces another One………………………………………………..64
3.2.4. Unity in “Brahma”…………………………………………………………………..…66
3.2.4.1. All Things as One Reality……………………………………………………….…..68
3.2.5. Unity in “Wood-notes I, II”……………………………………………………………..70
3.2.5.1. The Existence of Universal Truth Everywhere………………………………….…..70
3.2.6. Unity in “The World-Soul” ……………………………………………………………73
3.2.7. Unity in “Unity”………………………………………………………………….……76
Chapter Four: New Identity in Emerson’s Selected Poems ………………….81
4.1. Individuality in Emerson’s Philosophy………………………………………………….82
4. 2. Individuality in “The Sphinx”……………………………………………………………83
4.2.1. The Answer is the Universal Reality…….……………………….……………………84
4.2. 2. “Man is a Transparent Eyeball”……………………………………………………….85
4.2.3. Individuality in “Each and All”………………………………………………..………86
4.2. 4. Man should Leave Egotism …………………………………………………………….86
4.3. Individuality in “Brahma”………………………………………………………….……88
4.3.1. “Turn Thy back on Heaven”…………………………………………………………….88
4.3.4. Individuality in “Unity”………………………………………………………………..88
4.3.5. Individuality in “The World-Soul”…………………………………………….……….90
4.4. Microcosm in Emerson’s Philosophy……………………………………………………91
4.4.1. Microcosm in “Wood-notes”…………………………………….……………….…….91
4.4.1. 1. Everything will be discovered in Man …………………………………………………………….91
4.3.2. Microcosm in the Sphinx…………………………………………..………………….94
Chapter Five……………………………………………………………………………………..100
5.1. Summing Up……………………………………………………………………………101
5.2. Findings…………………………………………………………………………………103
5.3. Suggestions for Further Research………………………………………………………112
Work Cited……………………………………………………………….……115
Work Consulted…………………………………………………………………..….…118
Electronic Texts…………………………………………………………………………………………………119
Chapter One
Introduction
1.1. General Background
Lecturer and writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was the intellectual center of American Transcendentalism and one of the great thinkers and writers of American literary history. As a prolific writer and thinker in religious, literary and social subjects, Emerson embodied the Transcendentalist movement’s self-reliance and originality of understanding that in this study is referred to as individuality. Emerson spent a considerable amount of time reading about prominent figures but ultimately he defined his own ideas and philosophy.
Emerson was born in 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 25 1803, the fourth child of Ruth Haskins and the Reverend William Emerson. They had four more children after Waldo, although three of the children died in childhood. His mother was a religious woman who read and contemplated her spiritual life on a daily basis. She taught him the importance of religion as a personal and immanent experience but Emerson’s father took a more formal theological approach to religion as a Unitarian minister. Waldo, as he was called, came from a long line of New England ministers and his father who was a liberal clergyman had already rejected the Puritanism of their ancestors. Father died when Emerson was eight years old and the children were raised by their mother and the eccentric and well-read parental aunt Mary Moody Emerson that seems to have the early influence on Emerson’s intellectual and religious development. After graduation from Harvard University, he was ordained as a pastor in Boston but resigned his pastorship in1832, due to his skeptical views on the nature of sacraments which he witnessed to be used as the means of material and secular success. Although, the crisis of his wife’s death (1831) of tuberculosis after less than two years of marriage is probably one of the forces to leave his job. The break with the church began from this time and he attended Transcendentalism to establish his personal conviction over church tradition. He wrote many articles, poems, books, and gave many lectures, but he is more famous for his essays more than for his poems. He is a brilliant thinker in the world and especially in America that brought new ideas to the culture of his country. Moreover, it should be noted that he made the west familiar with Eastern thought through his writings and lectures. Emerson died on April 27, 1882. The headlines immediately after his death read, “Concord’s Irreparable Loss!” but the town and the nation, as well as students and philosophers and poets since, have kept Emerson alive.
Emerson’s first book Nature (1836) formulates and expresses the philosophy of the transcendentalism. Following this work, he gave a speech entitled “The American Scholar” in 1837. Emerson spoke about two major points in this address: to free American culture from its European past, and to free the individual American thinker from the bounds of society and tradition. After that, he presented many other lectures, one of the most notable ones “The Divinity School Address” (1838) questioned the very foundations of Christian belief, the divinity of Christ, the role of the ministry and the necessity and desirability of theological education. This speech brought many harsh criticisms on Emerson. It should be mentioned that most of his essays are lectures that are printed as books. The first two collections of essays, Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series published in 1841 and 1844 that include well-known essays as “Self–Reliance” (1841), “The Over–Soul” (1841), “Circles” (1841), “The Poet” (1844) and “Experience” (1844). “The Over-Soul” and “Self-Reliance” are two essays that express Emerson’s ideas of ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘self-culture’. The first essay expresses a universal presence of identity or unity which is the truth of everything in the universe, and the next one that emphasizes the reliance on self instead of history and book. Emerson primarily considered himself as a poet, although he is less recognized as such. For Emerson, the poet is defined in the broadest sense that includes his prose and also his lecturing. In his idea a poet is a philosopher that understands and reinterprets the world for others (Wayne, Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism 100). He published more than two dozen poems in the Dial and was encouraged to publish his first collection of Poems (1846), followed by Mayday and Other Series (1867) and Selected Poems (1876). He later gathered together his own collection of favorite poems and verses by other people in Parnassus (1874). Emerson’s poems offer many of the Transcendentalist themes that was to be found in Emerson’s preceding collections, Essays: First Series (1841) and Essays: Second Series and also his lectures. The poems establish Emerson as a poet-philosopher breaking free of genre and theme. His poems dealt with spiritual, but not religious, themes. Fuller ranked Emerson as a poet, high “in the melody, in subtle beauty of thought and expression” (qtd. in Wayne, Critical Companion to Emerson 215).
1.2 Statement of the problem
The present research aims at analyzing some of Emerson’s poems through his philosophy. This study investigates the poems in terms of Emerson’s notions of ‘unity’, ‘individuality’, and ‘microcosm’ to show a new identity for the human and other creatures in the world. The study through the mentioned concepts reveals a new identity that is in fact the united spirit of the world that Emerson names ‘the Over-Soul’. The concept ‘unity’ shows that the reality of every creature is ‘the Over-Soul’. Another concept, ‘individuality’ displays that human should find the truth of the world individually but through the relation with ‘the Over-Soul’. The reality that is understood personally is the truth of everything and also man. Furthermore, the study manifests that the essence of the world is present in every living being and accordingly is its reality. Ultimately, it is understood that the universal soul of the world or ‘the Over-Soul’ that is in fact the united spirit of the world is the real identity of every creature and also human being that is stressed through the three mentioned concepts.
1.3.3 Research Questions
This thesis will examine the three concepts ‘unity’, ‘individuality’, and ‘microcosm’ through Emerson’s philosophy in some of his selected poems. The study will answer these questions during the research:
1. How are the three concepts ‘unity’ and ‘microcosm’ revealed in the selected poems?
2. How does Emerson demonstrate the concepts differently in the poems?
3. How does each concept make a new identity for man and other creatures of the world through the poems?
4. How the meaning of the concept individuality as opposed to egotism is revealed in the selected poems?
5. What insight does the new identity bring to man?
1.3. Significance of the problem
Emerson is an influential thinker not only for American people but also for other countries and cultures. He affected many scholars and was himself under the influence of other figures. Many interpretations are written on his essays and lectures, but few researches have been done on his poetry as he is not famous for his poems. Therefore, this research is unique in its subject of study.
This study will hopefully be useful for the readers and future researchers; they would be able to know how some of Emerson’s poems reflect mystical and philosophical concepts like ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’. Also, they will see how the notions enrich human life and views to build a better world and feeling.
Finally, the study will be helpful to everyone who reads it as it makes a deeper attitude about the world and lessen the problems that are raised for the shortage of man’s overview of God and the universe
The study tries to reveal a new identity that is found through the three concepts ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’ in some poems of Emerson. Also, the thesis lightens the readers’ insight of life as it shows a novel identity for everything, and specifically for human being. Although many studies have been done on Emerson’s essays but very few ones have been done on his poem. Furthermore, the study reveals the idea that is hidden through Emerson’s words that the real identity of man is ‘the united spirit’ of the world or ‘the Over-Soul’. While he speaks about the notion of ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’ but in fact he shows that the real identity of everything is ‘the Over-Soul’.
1.3.1. Hypothesis
Borrowing Emerson’s ideas of ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’, this thesis attempts to demonstrate how man finds a new identity of the human and other creatures and reaches a deeper insight about everything.
Thus, the hypothesis indicates that the three notions of ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’ bring a new identity to the human and other creatures and enriches man’s views of the world and himself. This novel identity illustrates that all the creatures and especially man have the same entity that is the universal soul of the world. Although the three selected notions of the study are apparently different but they ultimately convey this notion that the real identity of the creatures is the united spirit of the universe, what he names ‘the Over-Soul’. The moment man has realized his unique place within the universe, he desires to live a life adequate to this insight. In fact he learns that everything and also other men are sacred as their real essence is that eternal and gentle soul.
1.5.2. Limitation and Delimitation
Ralph Waldo Emerson is affected from different schools and figures. When researcher reviewed related literature, she understood that other theses applied a special school on Emerson’s works, but this study is somehow different. The researcher chose Emerson as her philosopher and defined the three concepts unity, individuality and microcosm according to his ideas.
Emerson was a man of politics, religion, philosophy and art. His contribution to these fields of study is so vast, and consequently many books on different subjects have been written about him. Accordingly, the writer only concentrates on a few concepts that are chosen for this study: ‘unity’, ‘individuality’, and ‘microcosm’. The researcher will not study his beliefs on politics, but the study will be confined to the texts related to philosophy, religion and mysticism. Whereas the mentioned fields of study are vast, the writer tried to find the works that contained details about the three selected concepts and also his poems.
The focus of study is on a selection of poems that are related to the three selected concepts. Poems were chosen from different collections as they were not included in one book. The thesis is confined to the three collections of poems. The poems “Brahma”, “Each and all”, “Sphinx”, “Hamatrea”, are included in the book Ralph Waldo Emerson poems (2004) from the website “Poem hunter.com”. Also, the poems “Woodnotes I, II”, “Unity”, and “Xenophanes” are encompassed in the book Complete works of Ralph Waldo Emerson edited by Brook Atkinson. The essays will be confining to the book Essays (2001), published by Pennsylvania State University. All the essays are studied from the book, and all the written references to essays are made to this book.
1.4 Literature Review
Although many books are written about Emerson, his character and ideas are so vast that the researcher confined her study to limited texts related to his philosophy, mysticism, and poetry. Some parts of different books and very few articles prepared the needed knowledge for this study.
The mystical ideas that Emerson has in common with Persian mystics are explained in the book, Emerson and Persia by Mansour Ekhtiar. The book elaborates on the concepts common in Emerson’s philosophy and those of Persian mysticism. Accordingly, it was a source that was extremely helpful for understanding Emerson’s ideas, especially the three notions individuality, unity and microcosm which are discussed in this dissertation. Ekhtiar in this book, explains different notions like “Microcosm”, “Unity”, “the Negative existence of Evil”, and “Man’s Equation with God” according to Emerson and Persian mystics and then compare them with each other. One of the concepts that are studied in this thesis is “microcosm”. Ekhtiar recites Emerson to state this notion that everything holds the power of the entire universe, that each object is a microcosm of the universal truth of the world. Furthermore, he describes the meaning of “unity” as Emerson believes. In explaining this notion, he states that the dual aspects of things in the world are in fact, illusions. These dual concepts have the same truth, so there is unity among them and consequently, unity will be understood among all the concepts.
Another book that explained Emerson’s ideas was Four Great Teachers: John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Robert Browning written by Joseph Forster. Chapter four of the book is devoted to Emerson. It explained many of Emerson’s ideas and notions.
Leading American Essayists published in 1910 by William Morton Payne was another book that gave information about Emerson’s doctrines and notions. In the sixth part of the book Pane elaborates on Emerson’s spiritual ideas, especially that of ‘unity’.
In addition to the book mentioned in previous paragraphs, Ralph Waldo Emerson: An Estimate of His Character and Genius: In Prose and in Verse that was written by Amos Bronson Alcott prepared details on some themes in Emerson’s ideology as “power”, “unity”, “education”, “process” and etc. The explanations brought useful knowledge for the researcher to deepen her understanding of Emerson’s philosophy.
The book entitled A Historical Guide to Ralph Waldo Emerson edited by Joel Myerson contains historical essays about cultural, political, and social events related to Emerson. One of the essays in the book “The Age of First Person Singular: Emerson and Individualism”, written by Wesley T. Mott prepared useful information about Emerson’s ideas, especially the ones related to individuality and self in human being. The information perceived from this book is used in chapter two of this dissertation. The essay discusses individuality during the time. It states that Emerson’s God or ‘The Over-Soul’ is an immanent divinity which pervades the entire creation and also human, which is detectable by the human mind (mind in Emerson’s ideology is identical with the human soul). As Wesley Mott declares, Emerson’s “self-reliance” does not refer to one’s materialistic, egotistical self but to one’s higher principled moral self (75).Therefore, everyone makes a relation through intuition with ‘the Over-soul’. Mott quotes some lines from Emerson to explain the moment of mystical awareness not as a moment of “mean egotism” or romantic defiance but of one’s selflessness: “In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There, I feel that nothing can befall me in life– no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space. All mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal being through me; I am part or particle of God” (Collected Works, 1: 54).
“Emersonian Self-Reliance in Theory and Practice” was one of the chapters of the book Emerson by Lawrence Buell that contained useful information related to what Emerson means by trusting to everyone’s self. Buell shows that Emerson’s individuality is not related to selfish character of each person but emphasizes on subjectivity of vision to find the truth of the world.
Emerson’s articles were the best sources in the study for understanding his philosophy. Most of the articles were included in two books, Essays, First Series and Essays: Second Series. Among the essays “The Over-Soul”, “Self-reliance”, “Nature”, and “Compensation” contained information more about the three concepts under study in this dissertation. Actually, most of the quotations are chosen from these articles.
The researcher studied many articles, but they were not helpful, although their topics showed similarity but very few articles on Emerson contained useful arguments about his philosophy, especially mystical views. Some of them like “Mr. Emerson and Transcendentalism”(2006) by William Batchelder Greene and “Emerson and Mysticism”(2004) written by Patrick F. Queen evaluated his ideas under the influence of Transcendentalism and Persian mysticism.
One of the books Master plots in eight volumes prepared explanations and analyses of many poems including Emerson’s by many different critics. The volumes provided the analysis of some of the poems of Emerson in this study.
The researcher found some relations between the writings of William Blake and Emerson. A dissertation entitled “William Blake’s American legacy: transcendentalism and visionary poetics in Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman” by Clare Frances Elliott explored the influence of William Blake on the American thinkers like Emerson and Whitman. It encouraged the researcher to study the similarities among these three artists as all of them wrote visionary poetry. The realm of “Visionary Art” considers the exploration of the truth of the world through individual understanding of every person. This view resembles Emerson’s notion of individuality as he believes the universal truth of the world should be explored through individual power of each person. Even it should be considered that the visionary artists look into the truth of the world through their intuition. In chapter three and four of this study there are some references to the poems of the visionary poets like Blake.
Emerson’s poems are selected from the book Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Poems (2004) that is published by the website “poemhunter.com” and the poem “Unity” also got from the same website are both primary sources of this thesis. The poems presented in chapter three and four include “Unity”, “The Sphinx”, “Brahma”, “Xenophanes”, “Woodnotes I, II”, “The World-Soul”, and “Each and all” that reflect Emerson’s notions of ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’.
1.5 Material and Approach
Some notions and doctrines of Emerson have been used through this thesis which chapter two is devoted to defining them. Furthermore, the reason of choosing the concepts for the study will be presented.
In this study three concepts ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’ are chosen from Emerson’s philosophy. The mentioned notions will be defined thoroughly in chapter two according to Emerson’s ideas. Then, in chapter three and four the notions are shown in the selected poems. The researcher tries to display the main idea of this dissertation through the three notions that is the united spirit of the world which is the true identity of everything. Although the concepts ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’ speak about the power of individual person to find the truth of the universe and also the presence of the universal soul in each creature but the researcher tries to reveal other idea through these two concepts and also the notion of ‘unity’. She finds the essence of this dissertation in the three concepts as it is shown in the poems that the united soul of the world is the real truth of everything. Consequently, the study reveals the main idea of the research through some of Emerson’s poems.
1.6. Thesis Outline
This thesis is conducted in five chapters to deal with some of Emerson poems in terms of Emerson’s notion of ‘unity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’.
The first chapter under the title of Introduction gives a brief account of Emerson’s biography, and then it presents “Hypothesis”, “Significance of the Study”, “Purpose of the Study”, and “Research Questions”. It is followed by introducing literature and studies used in this thesis under the title of “Review of Literature”. Finally, “Material and Methodology” deals with the definition of key terms and notions which is followed by “Motivation and Delimitation”.
The second chapter entitled Emerson’s Philosophy is divided into three sections. The three selected concepts are thoroughly discussed in each part of this chapter.
The third chapter yields an analysis of the poems in terms of Emerson’s concept of “unity”. The notion draws a new image of man and the living beings in the world for the reader. Consequently, he is able to find a new identity for everything and also man and a broader and better view of life.
The fourth chapter analyzes the same poems by applying the other two notions ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’. The poems illustrate that each person should investigate the reality of the universe individually. Also, some poems reveal the presence of the universal soul in each entity. Man while learns that he can find the meaning of the universe through his personal relation to the eternal reality of the world and also in himself, he will make a new identity for himself that brings calmness and enriches his understanding. Furthermore, to know that the sum of the world is present in each substance makes everything sacred to human and he will be more eager to know himself and other creatures as the entities that contain the whole soul of the world inside.
The fifth chapter, entitled “Conclusion” gives a short summary of five chapters. It is followed by findings which are the answers to the raised questions of this thesis and also the foundations of the researches of this thesis. Then it suggests further ideas for future researchers.
1.5.1. Definition of Key Terms
There are some Emersonian philosophical terms and other notions which have been used in this thesis frequently. Although in chapter two, they have been explained, a brief definition of them is given in the following section. The terms are “unity”, “individuality”, “microcosm”, “the Over-Soul”, “understanding and reason”, “duality and unity”.
Individuality: At first it should be mentioned that Emerson believes that ‘the Over-Soul’ is the truth of the world as it is the real essence of everything in the universe. Emerson holds that everyone should understand the truth of the world individually, but this knowledge is attainable through the relation of every individual with ‘the Over-Soul’. Actually, everyone should trust himself and through the relation with the “universal soul” or ‘the Over-soul’ understand the truth of the existence individually. He states that “the conscience of each man is to him the moral standard” (Collected Work I, 320). Actually, everyone should trust himself and through the relation with the “universal soul” understand the truth of the world individually. The eminent critic Lawrence Buell, in his book Emerson, recites Emerson’s words in his essay “Self–reliance” to emphasize the importance of the human self in understanding the truth of the world and the presence of ‘the Over-Soul’ in everything especially human mind: “nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind” (43). The same idea is reflected in the essay “Self-reliance” in other words: “Believe in your own thought; trust yourself” (Essays 30). Also he writes: “Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing”. This is clearly a call for individuality in men that he asks his readers to try in their life. “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature” (30). Finally, it is very important to mention that by individual understanding he doesn’t mean the egotistical and selfish character of each person but he wants to show the subjectivity of vision. In fact, he asks each person to find the truth of the world individually but through relation with ‘the Over-Soul’.
Microcosm: One of Emerson’s notions is ‘microcosm’ through which he reveals the presence of the ‘universal soul’ in each entity and also in man. He shows that everything is complete and contains the reality of the world, ‘the Over-Soul’. He states in “The Self-Reliance” that ‘the Over-Soul’ is in everything: … each particle is a microcosm and faithfully renders the likeness of the world” (Essays 139). Also, Emerson reveals the existence of the universal Soul in human being in another essay “Compensation”: “The intuition of the moral nature, the overwhelming sense of God as no external power, but an immanent presence, in the universe and in ourselves” (Essays 54).
Reason and Understanding: Emerson was touched by some figures that shaped many of his ideas. The philosopher Emanuel Kant was directly influential in Emerson’s writings. In the theory of the two kinds of knowledge, “Understanding and Reason”, Emerson followed Kant that believed if everyone knows the world through his intuition or “understanding” he will find the experiences as they are but if he uses his sense to explore the world, he can understand the universe as it seems. Likewise, Emerson believed to Kant’s doctrine of knowledge, but he used different words for defining his own meaning. Emerson used the words “understanding” instead of sense and “reason” instead of understanding. In the essay “The Transcendentalist” Emerson explained that if someone knows the world by his understanding he considers the appearance of things but if he studies the world through his reason he uses his conscious and he will see the nature has behind itself a meaning”(Collected Works II,145). The person that understands the world through his reason is led to the world of intuition and finds the truth behind the surface, the universal truth and the unity throughout the world.
Unity: Emerson speaks of unity many times in his writings. He emphasizes the wholeness among all the essences in the world. To Emerson all dualities and multiple things have the same essence. He names this essence ‘the Over-soul’. Moreover, He believes that there is an interrelation among all the substances of the world and each one is related to this whole soul in the universe. Also he maintains that man, God and nature are one truth that is the “Over-soul”. This united spirit contains and overpower everything in the world.
The Over-Soul: It is an Emersonian notion that refers to the universal soul of the world. It is the united spirit that encompasses and rules everything. He also refers to it as the “universal soul” and “the One”. According to Emerson man, God and nature are one reality that is named ‘the Over-soul’. Emerson defines ‘the Over-soul’ in the essay “History” as “one mind common to all individual men” (Essays 20). ‘The Over-Soul’ is a “flowing river, which pours for a season its streams into me,” the “Unity . . . within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart . . . that overpowering reality”(Collected Works 139 ). Nature is but the physical manifestation of the universal force, ‘the Over-Soul’. Consequently, it should be noted that ‘the Over-soul’ is the real essence of everything and also the power that contains and overpower everything in the world.
Chapter Two

Emerson’s Philosophy

To believe your own thought … – that is genius. Trust thyself: every
Heart Vibrates to that iron string whose would be a man must be
Nonconformist Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then?
…..live ever in a new day.
“Self-Reliance” (Collected Works 2:27)
This Chapter provides the methodology of the dissertation. As it was explained in chapter one, chapter two gives an elaboration on the three concepts that are selected from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s philosophy. The first part deals with the notion “unity” and it is followed by the second and last section ‘individuality’ and ‘microcosm’. In each section the concepts are fully explained and elaborated on according to the ideas of Emerson.
2.2. Emerson’s philosophy
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist, philosopher and poet was an important figure in America and also in the world. He was under the influence of many Western and Eastern philosophies such as Transcendentalism, Hinduism, Persian Mysticism or Sufism and also some important figures like, Samuel Tailor Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Emanuel Swedenborg. He was also the leading spokesperson of the transcendental movement in America.
The term “Transcendentalism” was first introduced by German philosopher Immanuel Kant and was published in his Critique of Practical Reason. He applies the term to any aspect of the spiritual or nonmaterial world of experience (Wayne, The Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism 161), while American Transcendentalism that Emerson followed and developed began as a crisis of faith and as a reaction against Boston Unitarianism (Wayne, Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism 65).
In exploring the role of the individual, Transcendentalism rejected the need for biblical Christianity, replacing belief in God of the Bible with the divinity of humanity. It looked to individual intuition rather than the scientific rationalism as the ultimate source of knowledge, but indeed, it is the belief in a higher knowledge than achieved by human reason. It maintains the goodness of humanity, the glories of nature, and the importance of free individual expression. This school also holds that material objects do not have any real existence of their own; rather, they are diffused aspects of God, ‘the Over-Soul’ (66). As transcendentalists were interested in “Idealism”, they defended “Orthodox Unitarians” by locating religious authority in human nature which, like Plato, they believed to be higher than the Bible or the person of Christ. Indeed, they emphasized exploring the truth of the world through individual power of each person, the intuition of the moral nature, the overwhelming sense of God as no external power but an immanent presence in the universe and in human being (65).
Emerson, as an American intellectual and author, helped the development of Transcendentalism. He offered a simple definition of Transcendentalism as “Idealism” as it appeared in 1842 and an emphasis on the power of inspiration and on individual culture (65). It involves man’s interaction with nature, and the idea that man belongs to one universal and benign omnipresent power known as ‘the Over-Soul’ (66). In one of his essays, “Nature”, he has depicted his theory of Transcendentalism and also his personal view of nature.
In addition to “Transcendentalism”, Emerson studied other philosophies like “Persian Mysticism”, “German Romanticism”, “Buddhism”, “Hinduism” and other philosophies. He also followed the writings of the thinkers Swedenborg, Wordsworth, Colleridge and more figures.
2.2.2. Unity in Emerson’s Philosophy
The days of days, the great day of the teast of life,
is that in



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