The American Scholar

Last name


TheAmerican Scholar

Thisessay was originally given as an address to a group of exceptionalstudents in Harvard. The main theme of the address was the idealattributes of a true American scholar. To further his theory, Emersondiscussed about the roles and importance of nature, past experiencesusually recorded in books and actions of men to the responsibility ofgaining education that is necessary to bring about man’s highestvalue of existence. In line with this, the address called for thepromotion of the ideal of a true and independent “American scholar”who, unlike in the olden days, gained recognition through submissionto authorities (617).

Asto the role of nature in shaping the true scholar’s mind, Emersonemphasized that the two long-accepted maxims “Study nature” and“Know thyself” are actually equivalent in their meaning asknowledge of nature leads to a knowledge on one’s self and viceversa. As to books, Emerson conceded that these are necessary to mostfields of learning. However, he emphasized on the dangers of relyingtoo much on books and written texts as sources of knowledge because ascholar should have originality and high sense of creativity. Toomuch dependence on books hinders the development of these attributes.Lastly, a scholar whose intellectual faculty are regarded to be ofhighest importance is likewise expected to put his or her wisdom intoaction as action is likewise a source of knowledge.

Insum, Emerson explained that a true American scholar should haveoriginality, is courageous and not dependent on others. Even thoughinfluences surrounding a scholar are necessary, the ideal Americanscholar must be wise and should possess the said characteristics.This is what a true American scholar is all about (620-630).


Emerson,Ralph Waldo. “.” TheAmerican Tradition Literature. Ed.George Perkins. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. 617-630. Print.