Interesting Quote

“I do not wish to fling stones at my beautiful mother, nor soil my gentle nest. I only wish to indicate the true position of nature in regard to man, wherein to establish man, all right education tends; as the ground which to attain is the object of human life, that is, of man’s connection with nature. Culture inverts the vulgar views of nature, and brings the mind to call that apparent, which it uses to call real, and the real, which it uses to call visionary” (55).


I found this excerpt from Nature to be interesting and compelling. Emerson is discussing Idealism in this chapter. Idealism is an explanation of reality or human experience through non-materialistic elements. Emerson is rejecting the “personality of God” and stating all one truly needs is “nature”.  The religious culture affronts nature, and it is up to the individual to connect with nature to educate himself and find truth. He later says the God that society accepts and follows is the “pure and awful form of religion in the world” (56). He states religion is a practice of ideas while in nature you can find truth. Religion presents to you something creative and far-fetched and tells you it is real while nature can tell you what is actually real. Religion represents things as they might be while nature presents things as they are. Emerson states he is not trying to “fling stones at my beautiful mother” or denigrate and demean the way he was brought up in the “gentle nest” but he is rejecting the religion he was raised on. He finds that religion and ethics put “nature under foot”. Emerson believes too many elements are affecting a person’s view of the world and one must turn to nature to be able to see clearly and think for themselves. Christians find nature subordinate and use it mainly to profit off of which is why Emerson believes “few adults can see nature” (6). Emerson believes that his ideal theory is more “desirable to the mind” (56) which will allow the mind to see what is truly apparent. Emerson would like culture to change and turn away from the popular faith so you can appreciate every single thing nature has to offer instead of seeing it as “one vast picture” (56) God has painted.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature. Ch./Art: Full book American Renaissance 2009


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by al002 on September 22, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I agree with your post that Ralph Emerson’s Nature is rejecting Christianity, a humanized religion, and accepting the pure and natural following of appreciating nature. Emerson seems to be connecting culture of man and Christianity to the loss of innocence when saying that “few adults can see nature” (6) and that only children can see and appreciate nature because they are innocent. By rejecting culture, Emerson believes man can regain their innocence and begin seeing nature and appreciating it. Another interesting point about Emerson rejecting man’s culture is that he describes nature as a mother figure, a common theme among nature writing. By saying he will not fling stones at his “beautiful mother” (55), Emerson associates the female nature with the source of innocence that is required to appreciate and witness nature’s pure form.

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