Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Emerson Aphorisms

Please cite the aphorism that struck you the most in Self Reliance. An aphorism is a short statment that expresses wise or clever observations about life. Please elaborate on its meaning and the overall significance and connection to you. Was there anything you disagreed with regarding Emerson's insights? Explain.

24 comments:

vandersen said...
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verrettaa said...

My favorite aphorism in Emerson’s writing is “Your conformity explains nothing.” This means that through conformity, nothing can be discovered about you, or about anyone else. Unconformity mean being different, and be observing these differences, we learn what people like, and who they are. In my life, I find my self in situations where I don’t agree with what everyone else agrees with, or when I want to try something different. When I go forward in these situations with self-reliance and I am not afraid to be myself, then people discover the kind of person I am and what I believe. If I stand by and let other opinions over power my own, I may be unnoticed.
Emerson stated that self-reliance is the aversion of society. I think that a society would be against self-reliance because the citizens of the society should be reliant on each other for the society to be strong. However, I somewhat disagree with Emerson’s opinion, because I think that through one’s individual thought and ideas, a society can benefit. Some great thinkers such as Luther and Newton have benefited our society in many ways, although they were at first misunderstood by their community.

Lauren L said...

My favorite aphorism in Self-Reliance is “Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string.” To me, this means you need to trust your self because everyone is different and everyone wants different things in their hearts. The only person who knows what you what is you. Don’t trust, listen or follow what anyone else does over your own wants or desires because deep down you know what you want and you can’t have other people leading your life or change what your heart really wants. I really know how this feels because I have had people in my life try and sway my decisions but in the end I usually end up doing what I really want because I have learned when I listen to my heart and do what it tells me I am the happiest. Overall in Self-Reliance, I agreed and disagreed with the insights. One thing I did not agree with was when he said “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one if it’s members.” I don’t believe that society is trying to conspire against manhood. I also don’t agree when he says “The virtue in most request is conformity.” I don’t think that’s what people want at all. Why would people want to conform? But for the most part I agreed with the things Emerson wrote about.

Tabitha M said...

“It is harder because you will always find those who think they know what your duty is better than you know it.” Everyone is told what to do here and there constantly throughout their lives. And there will always be that person that thinks they are wiser and that they know what’s best for you. But at the end of the day you know what the best decision is even if it contradicts that person. I believe the quote means to listen to the suggestions, but at the end of the day we get to make our own choices even if our choices are bad ones. To me it means that I’m not going to live to someone else’s rule, but that I am going to follow my own diction. It is true that I might choose the wrong choices once in awhile, but who wants to be a clone of someone else?

casey o said...

My favorite Emerson’s writing is “What I must do is all the concerns me, not what the people think,” because it truly shows my personality and how the world is today. He talks about solitude, and I see solitude and a large part in society today. How it is very easy for people to make own opinions while in solitude but to be an individual of greatness, people must explore others ideas and consider others feelings. People of greatness are individuals who think about others ideas and then choose their own beliefs, not jumping to conclusions. People of meanness are all about themselves, not caring about others ideas/ beliefs, they are stuck on a certain way and will not accept anything other than their way. Meanness people are always right in their minds and their beliefs are the only right ones out their. This piece is saying how they want to bring ideas fro society to adopt, to try and change the closed mind thinker and make people into open minders, always considering others and then choosing their own decisions, not making a decision without hearing the opposite side. Don’t be a “me” person. You want to look out for yourself, but not at the expense of others feelings.

tyler m said...

My favorite aphorism in Self Reliance was "Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string." To me this means you must trust yourself because everyone is different and want different ways of showing it. The only person who knows what to do is you. Don't listen or follow what ever other people have to say, because deep down only you can tell what you desire and no one can take that away from you. This throws a connection to me because I know what it feels like to have some try to sway me into doing something that i have no desire what to do, and you can live like that,you have to listen to your heart and find a path that you desire and take it. For the most part i agree with Emersons writing. One thing I don't agree is when he said "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one if it's members." I don't believe that society is trying to conspire against manhood. All and all I do agree with his writing.

meredith a. said...

One of my favorite aphorisms in Emerson’s writing was “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.” All our lives we have people tell us what to do and there will always be those people who think they are in charge of you. But in this aphorism, it states that you should not let anyone tell you how to live your life, no matter what. You should live by your own rules in life and live it how you want your life to be lived.

Dani H said...

One of Emerson’s aphorism’s that popped out to me was, “What I must do is all the concerns me, not what the people think.” This writing spoke to me because I and every other teenager deal with peer pressure everyday. I wish every time someone persuades me to do something I do not need to do or should do, I could read this quote to just say no. This goes broader than just Arapahoe High School but into pop culture and the world. Some people have jobs that are mainly to take pictures of someone else’s lives. They disrupt the other person’s privacy and happiness. Also America if having a tuff time in our economy, but still we are over in Iraq concerning our self with others’ problems. No matter what people think, we should concern ourselves about our situation before others. This seems selfish, but every person, country, and life is searching for happiness and first you have to deal with your own problems before others. Emerson had the path to absolute happiness except for the fact all of his aphorisms were very selfish. Sometimes in finding happiness can be through helping a friend or loved one.

rachel b said...

My favorite aphorism is, "Men measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is." I think this explains the world perfectly. In society, you are not a good person if you don't have money or a big house. We judge others based on their income, not by the what they do. I think in his quote the word "is" can be interpreted in different ways. It can mean what they do for a living, whether they are a mother or father, husband or wife. It can mean if they were a friend. Most people don't care about those things. People don't have enough appreciation for stay at home moms, when in actuality, it is a difficult job with great rewards.
I didn't agree with Emerson's statement, "Society never advances." I think that all society does is advance. Think about how far we have come, all the things we have invented. I don't think that the inventions have held us back. He says that we invented the watch, but fail the skill to tell the hour by the sun. I dont think thats important. Who cares where you get the time, as long as you get the time. Overall, i liked this piece by Emerson.

Trent W. said...

A quote that struck me was: "Your conformity explains nothing." Just like Veretta said, your conformity doesn't guarantee you success or really...anything. Unfortunately, some people do conform and that's just the way they are. But they all have an ability to be different, but it's inhibited by irresponsibilty. I believe people that make wrong choices allways need a scapegoat, or they can't tell the difference from right or wrong. This is connected to the quote Tabitha stated also: "It is harder because you will always find those who think they know what your duty is better than you know it.” Some people can honestly believe that, which leads to the irresponsibility. Isn't easier just to decide for yourself????Others are leaders who are completely capable and show no hesitation of making choices, which can be good or bad. But like the saying, "you'll never know until you try." Their unconformity makes the world see in their eyes be it right or wrong, but at least it takes reasonable notice. How were religions started that we all have faith in? Universal religions like Christianity or Islam which stem from a specific "unconformist" if you will, and it completely shaped the way the world turns. And I believe it's better that way. Look at communism in the Soviet Union: it collasped hard, China is going to be no different. The conformity caused the fall.

MikeW said...
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MikeW said...

The aphorism that impacted what I live for is "To be great is to be misunderstood." I believe that all people have a special part in life that leads them to success. Most people don't notice, but they are not inferior to people such as Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, John McCain, or any other celebrity. People who express their true ability are very successful, envied, and reknown throughout history. If we all could reach inside of us and pull out that ability, no one would be misunderstood. If you do not believe someone is 'great' then you do not know that person. Talent is within everyone, but dedication is something to strive for. I have some people say that I'm "hilarious" or "annoying", but those words don't affect me because I know they're wrong. I might be considered "hilarious" or "annoying", but I'm just like them. No one is different in characteristics until they are made that way by the people around them. You do not make yourself 'you', the positive or negative influences around you make you who you are. I do not believe in that quotes "Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist." and "Infancy conforms to nobody; all conform to it." He is saying that if you're a normal human being, you'll be completely independent and you will not follow anybody else's laws or aspects. God created man to be a well organized species that will follow one another to survive. Through this, we have developed technology and cultural and religious groups. Ralph Emerson does not realize that everyone had followed one example, and that was God.

mcohn said...

My favorite aphorism of Ememerson’s writings was the second paragraph. I like the way he started the paragraph that describes how a man is envied ignorance. Also another part that I like was when he talks about men don’t give up until he know what he can or cant do, and that he will only know until he tries. When he described about how men are relieved and happy when he has put a lot of work into something and that he knows he has done his best, I thought of myself and really think that is very true. I feel great when I have worked very hard and relieved when I have competed it.

KelseyW said...

In Self Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, I found that the aphorism, "A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best", stuck out to me the most. This means that when ever you work hard and actually put effort into something, you will feel like you had just accomplished something. The aphorism is encouraging people to work hard on things because then they are usually done with care and accuracy. How they are doing this is by telling them that they will feel good about themselves once they have finished. I know what this is like when I do and don’t try hard. Every once in a while I just want to get something done quickly so I don’t put time and effort into it. When I finally finished, I may feel relief that I am done. Occasionally I feel some disappointment because I could have done better. Whenever I do work hard on something I feel relief that I am done but also as if I had climbed to the top of a mountain. It is a feeling of accomplishment, and you are rather proud of yourself. Most of Emerson's insights I agreed with, but some I did not at all. One of these insights I did not agree with was "Society everywhere is in a conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members". Though, I agree that conspiracy is in some places, I do not agree that it is everywhere. Another aphorism that I did not agree with was, "Whoso(e) would be a man, must be a nonconformist". Everyone have the right to pick who they would like to be, well at least in America. "Society never advances" says Emerson. I think that it is always advancing and it never really stops. People are always thinking of different ways to do things.

Dylan L said...

In Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the aphorism that struck me the most is "Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string." This means, be comfortable with who you are and just be yourself. You are the only one that can make the right decisions for yourself. Everyone is different and has different desires, be confident with the decisions you make and don’t try to be anybody but yourself. I chose this aphorism because it relates to many aspects of life. Going though life timid and afraid to be yourself and make your own decisions only sets one up for failure. Having confidence in everything you do and every decision you make helps take the fear out of failure. The only way you learn is if you fail first. I can relate to this aphorism because people try to pressure me to be someone I am not everyday. I am guilty and have fallen under pressure from my peers and elders trying to be someone I am not, but I have learned from my mistakes and know not to fall into the same trap again. It is extremely important to be able to make decisions that will make you happy. One thing I didn’t agree with in Self-Reliance was, “Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong is against it." I believe good and bad are much more than names. There are bad people who do bad thing all around the world, as well are good people who do good things too. There is a fine line between good and bad and it is important to know the difference.

Scott B said...

I loved the aphorism that said. “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” Though it is long I think it is important to have the whole thing. Many people live their lives one way around one group of people and another around others. Some people will even drive miles away from where they live so that they can do things that the society they live in doesn’t approve of. People will most often times live a two faced life because they don’t want others to see who they really are. I think in some cases people fear themselves and are still trying to hide it. Though it is quixotic to believe that everything everyone does will be shown in their everyday interactions, people still need to venture out and show the world who and what they are.

LiaWH said...

The most powerful thing that I found was “Your conformity explains nothing”. I strongly believe in this quote by Emerson. How can anyone know you if your following everyone else? Conformity explains nothing because it doesn’t represent or show anything that you are. I couldn’t stress the thought of being true to you more. If your not your true self then how can you do or know what makes you happy? I think if you conform long enough you lose yourself. Every time you conform it’s like losing a chunk of your soul. This relates to another thing that Emerson wrote “Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string”. Being your true self is letting your soul be seen. To believe in yourself you have to trust yourself. We look different for a reason. If we were all the same, there would be no new ideas.. Where would the world be without new ideas?

kaylab said...

My favorite aphorism in Self Reliance was "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but your principles. This means that if you just be yourself and do what makes you happy,your life will be a lot better and more enjoyable. Money and material possessions will not bring a person peace in their lifetime, it will just be overwhelming and probably bring them trouble. I think that if a person is truelly comfortable with who they are they will be able to bring peace to their life and will be able to enjoy life alot more. A person's principles will help set guidlelines for how they want to live their life and set goals for what they want to achieve.

Tiffany F. said...

The aphorism that stuck me the most in Self Reliance was “what I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.” What this means is that, do not let others change you, stick to who you are and people will either except you are not, just be you. Do what you think is right, stick to what God wants you to do in life. Do not let people stop you from doing what you want, well unless it is crazy; follow your heart and you will make a difference. I know for myself I do what my inner voice says, not what the crowd says. Always listen to your inner voice, because most likely it is the right thing to do. Do not let people put down your actions, they are just jealous of you. You have to live with your conscious, believe in yourself, and have knowledge and awareness that what you do is in accordance with your own beliefs and values. I disagreed with the quote “for nonconformity the worlds whips you with its displeasure.” This quote is saying that if you do not conform the world will whip you with its disappointments. As a student I am relating this to school and the idea that I want to be an individual and have my own personality, I want to be me, my own snowflake. You should not be punished for being different or unordinary.

Abby S said...

In Emerson's insights, the one most striking to me was "Men measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is". I believe that it is human nature to be greedy, judgmental, and jealous of others things. Now this may not necessarily be good traits, but everyone possesses them. We measure ourselves to other people items and looks instead of measuring to our own hopes and goals. This made me think of what it means to be an individual, how do you become one, and can you become one? Are we considered individuals if we have the same things as other people do? The same car, the same shirt, or even the same favorite food can make us alike. I think that individuality is not what you wear or how you look, but how you express yourself through your words and actions. What sets us apart from each-other are our ideas and messages we want to spread. Emerson says; "...just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger then a man who stands on his head". As individuals we need to walk away from the items of the world and not get our minds wrapped up in them. When jealous of others possessions, we tend to forget our values and our beliefs, and when following someone else's, that is when we become the same. I think that Emerson is saying that there will always be something better then what we have. We will always want to upgrade and move forward. If we move to quickly, we may just forget what we are leaving behind.

Gracie G said...

The aphorism that I really felt strong about was “Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string.” The only person who knows what you want/need is yourself. No matter how many people may convince you that they know your best intrests, they're wrong. Go by the first instinct of how your heart feels, I think in most cases you can never go wrong. I think following your heart is better than what your mind may tell you to do. Though your mind may be telling you the "smarter" thing, I think decisions made from the heart will always bring happiness in the end. I also think Emerson made a great point about people with great minds, "With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do." Because Phythagoras, Socrates, Luther, Copernicus, Jesus, Galileo, & Newton were blessed with such great minds, things we average people find hard don't even phase them. These people think way beyond, and they want to know and want to discover how and why things are the way they are. I just really liked how Emerson brought that up, because I know someone like that, and it is just crazy to fathom what is going on in their head. "Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood." These great souls are misunderstood because they are so unique, and no one can keep up so the average person is confused. "To be great is to be misunderstood."

JimmyE said...

The aphorism that stuck out to me was "The other terror that scares us from selftrust is our consistencey; A reverence for our past act or word because the eyes of others have no other data for computin our orbit than our past acts, and we are loth to disappiont them." If you are consistent in your beliefs and never branch out you will block out all that there is to learn. also i liked how it said don't dwell on the past always move forward and don't let other people influence you. You are going to fail or disappoint but don't fail cause you didn't try and if you disappoint don't let it happen again.

Joyce B. said...

From the reading Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson the aphorism that struck me the most was “Insist on yourself; never imitate.” (5th page) It is such an important message especially for teenagers. So many teenagers try to imitate “popular” people to have more friends or be liked better. People who are completely different and out of the ordinary are so much more interesting than people who spend all their time trying to fit in to something they are just not meant to be. It is boring to hear the same things again and again, it is much better to do something new and different. A crucial part of live is to try new things and find out what you really enjoy and go with it no matter how out of the ordinary it may be. Emerson is brilliant and has so much insight to share that I believe every one should hear.

jbarry said...

I think that the most important aphorism in this writing is "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men- that is genius." Emerson really stresses the need for individuality and self-confidence. I think that many people today do not firmly take a stand because they are afraid of being ostracized and humiliated at the fact that they are few and the believers of opposition are many. Emerson argues that it is essential to discovering oneself to do something difficult, like standing up against the crowd, and making it known that you think differently. Because of the simple truth that it is easier to follow the norm than it is to break the mold, our country has become one of conformity and misinterpretation. There is a standard that is set for young people, especially those in their teen years. This standard makes it expected for teens to conform to the broader use of drugs and alcohol, as well as fashion and material posessions. Clearly, this standard as well as many others are setbacks for all who seek the advancement of culture.