What are the main points in essay "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson?


Quick Answer

Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Nature" begins with a lament about people's willingness to accept easy answers about nature, rather than experiencing it for themselves. It then moves to a discussion about the nature of true solitude, followed by a discussion of the various ways that nature gives people insight into the nature of existence.

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What are the main points in essay "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson?
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Full Answer

In the introduction of the essay "Nature," Emerson argues that all the questions that people have developed about the universe, including those regarding the connections between God, nature and humanity, have answers that come through experiencing life and the world. Because each person is a unique manifestation of divine creation, each person has a different key to solving the universe's mysteries.

In the first chapter, the essay talks about the importance of solitude, which happens when people go out into nature, leaving all distractions behind. Gazing up at the stars reminds one that there is a distance between the material world and the natural one. The material world is transient, with the natural world being much closer to the infinite. The next four chapters talk about the uses to which man puts nature. Emerson defines these as commodity, or turning nature into usable things; beauty, or gaining aesthetic pleasure from nature; language, or turning sensory input into words; and discipline, or using nature to access the faculty of reason.

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