Discussion Questions for Emerson

 

Vocabulary:

latent

piquancy

éclat

ephemeral

philanthropist

sect

chagrin

usurp

rote

covenants

amelioration

 

Background resource:

 

http://www.transcendentalists.com/self_reliance_analysis.htm

 

  1. How is Emerson's idea of Self-Reliance different from and similar to the common use of the term (take care of your own needs and don't depend on others outside yourself)?
     

  2. Is Emerson really saying "Believe anything you want to believe and do anything you want to do"? Is he really saying "Nothing outside yourself matters"?
     

  3. What would Emerson think of 21st century American capitalism?
     

  4. Would Emerson's ideas as expressed in this essay result in a stronger or weaker government? More or less democracy?
     

  5. What would Emerson say about the human capacity for good and for evil?
     

  6. How have Emerson's ideas helped shape our concept of the American Dream?