|← Platonic Epistemology||Critical Thinking and Philosophy →|
Philosophy has been in existence since time immemorial. Several writers have come up with various philosophical journals, books and wordings which have been extensively used by recent and past scholars. Philosophy is generally the study of fundamental problems which include but not limited to knowledge, existence, values, reason, mind and language. Its critical analysis of issues, and its reliance on rational argument, has differentiated it from other ways of addressing such problems. Philosophy can be defined as 'love of wisdom'. The overall goal of philosophy is to address the big questions.
Self-Reliance is widely attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson's philosophy of individualism which was first published in 1841, and the finest example of his prose. He was widely known for his use of the phrase ''trust thyself" and "Self-Reliance" in his explanations. He meant that every individual is a genius and possesses unique traits which can only be exploited if the individual has the courage to trust in their own thoughts, attitudes, strengths and refrain from prejudices from the public. Emerson in his phrases uses "men" and "mankind" to represent all humanity and those individuals who showed self-reliance and had positive results and success to show out of it. (Emerson 1987)
Emerson begins his tackling of the "self reliance" subject by defining the term genius; in which he explains that every educated man at last realizes that envy is ignorance this is because all individuals have a chance to achieve as their counterparts if only they concentrate on their goal. Each individual must be truly themselves as no human can be the same as the other; that imitation is suicide and will be the same as chasing the wind. This is because we have different talents; that each individual must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion as it's from this basis that they can achieve their calling and it's the ground with their confidence is build and sowed.
Emerson points out that the world is full of good things but nothing will be equal to hard work that each individual should exhibit in order to achieve their independence. This clearly shows that each individual came to earth with a clear mission and purpose to fulfill no matter how hard it may be for him. This is because after hard work there is an ultimate goal to be achieved and that is self reliance and independence. He further expressed that the power in human is new in nature and he or she doesn't know until you have put some effort. When man dedicates his heart and will in his work, he is relieved but if he does the opposite he will not have peace as his genius will abandon him and he will not have hope. (Emerson, 1967)
On the other hand, God has made each person unique and that each person has a destined work to do which is not the same as the other. He further argues that if one trusts their own thoughts and puts them into action, it's a clear indication that they are listening to the voice of God. Emerson adds that people must seek privacy so that they can be able to hear their own thoughts, because the society forces men to change their way of living.
Emerson came up with two things that inhibit people from believing themselves this are; societal disapproval and foolish consistency. If you don't conform to the above the world treats you with disapproval. He gives more attention to foolish consistency. This simply means continuously doing wrong without the urge to rectify it. He reassures that what is judged harshly by others is simply varied but unified activity of a unique individual. He urges individuals to be true not what happened yesterday but what is clearly the right course today and with this the right destination will be reached.
Emerson expounds that the power which is in each human is new in nature and it is only him who knows what he can do with it. On the other hard, he cannot be able to know about it until he has attempted to try it. This shows that those who have not attained self reliance boils down to their inability not to try and rediscover what they can engage their minds to do for their own good. Trusting yourself is a fundamental ingredient for it is from this iron string that every heart vibrates.
Sincerity is also advocated by Emerson, this he claims will bring someone closer to being what they truly are. This goes hand in hand with being brave and true to one self. No one can lie to themselves because you are the one controlling whatever goes on in your life and you have a chance to choose right from wrong and to propel your current position to greater heights at times even beyond your expectations. This can be realized through accepting your current situation as a ground to sow your seed of self reliance. With acceptance you can easily make something great with it. There is no time which is better than now as it is what is available for proper shaping of our destinies. Genius and wisdom arise when you acknowledge that the source of existence is placed in your heart and it's implemented with your hands. Emerson argues that you are not a victim of life. As a human being you have a part to play in your destiny and to intensify the battle between good and evil.
Emerson pointed out the way children trust their own impression and that they have learned not to calculate the number of people who time without end oppose their purposes. Instead they conceive a purpose and will strive to achieve it. He continues to acknowledge that "there is something which is charming, interesting, and pleasing in each stage of life from childhood to old age". Due to the above, you have to take exactly what you are and find a means to accomplish your dream and time should not be a limiting factor. No one knows the time in his lifetime when his purpose in life will be fulfilled. It is also healthy to have a conciliatory behavior in ones being. This means that you don't try to please others by exhibiting pleasing behavior, don't even try to beg for their approval. This is because the mentioned shows that they don't have confidence and right to be where you are, to think what you think. But you surely have the right. (Emerson 2010)
It is not necessary for one to figure out the wordings he has to stick to and the behavior which deem popular with others as this will further drive you away from achieving the state of self reliance. This will simply lead to an individual selling their soul for manipulation. This leaves you to the ultimate dependence on others who will do as they wish with your life. Instead be indifferent to the judgments of others not with any angry attitude but with firm knowledge and wisdom. This will not only drive you closer to achieving your destined goal on earth but also exhibit to the world that whatever you have laid down will be achieved sooner or later as long as there is will and drive in you. Emerson warns that what you where before has a tendency to pull you back and to overcome this you have to forget whatever happened before and be what you are now because every human has the ability to change and be what they want. This is to mean even if it seems to contradict with what others including you have in the past assumed you to be. Being free and having the creativity force in you which change your destiny in an instant.
Emerson stressed the need to uphold truth and honesty as this will scare some people who will be out to stop you from achieving your dreams and rediscover who you are really meant to be. He further explains the fact that the world has a scheme to make you obey the set standards. Others will think that they know what you want, what you should do act and think. They will go ahead and pressure raises you to conform to it. If you give in and conform, you will definitely lose your soul, originality, connection to mystery, creativity and aliveness. This means you are as good as dead and hence you can't function and exist as you ought to be.
Emerson claims that the world is in an endless plot to make one do the accepted protocol laid by the society. This is to mean that you are not at free will to do as you wish and follow your own way. In the event that you give in to their demands, you will lose your soul, your originality, your connection to Mystery; you lose your creativity and your aliveness. If you have lost all the above its very clear that you have no purpose to live for in the world and that the sooner you realize the better for you and for the journey towards attaining self-reliance. This clearly portrays the need to rely on your will at all times and become those who shall be counted as having made great changes in the world. There is a new power and force when you continuously rely on yourself and exhibit the exact person you are. The advantage of this is the endless discovery of new things in you life more than you ever thought. (Emerson 2010)
Emerson expresses the need to be consistent. This he explains blocks the new creation that attempts to flow out of you. He asserts that you should without relenting, speak whatever you think in hard words today and do the same tomorrow even though you may end up contradicting yourself. This gives life a new meaning every day and pose different challenges to strive towards achieving self reliance. The above take will make you to be misunderstood but you will at the end have set your record straight. All great people in the entire world have suffered this indignity and thus you will not be the pioneer. At the end of the battle you will be a cause, an architect, a creator just as the great individuals who saw the world with honest eyes. Emerson recognizes the fact that we fear failure and more still fear doing some thing original what a pity to humankind. He notes that someone is ruined or not depending on what they speak of themselves. This is because if you think positively and strongly about yourself you will pick yourself and go on with life no matter the situation at hand.
The relationship between a person and the society in self reliance has been neglected. This is because he believes so much in the illusion that one can exist without the society as some kind of self-reliant machine. He seems to mean that the relationship between man and society is internally competitive one. What he fails to recognize is that an individual is modeled by the society. Furthermore we need society; man alone in the society cannot survive.
The two barriers to self reliance according to Emerson are conformity and consistency. This I agree with him because we need the society but it does not include complacency and passive acceptance. The people, who have made positive changes in the society are those who question, resist influence which in the long run renews the society.