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Gaining perspective on life while we are engaged in living is difficult.This confusion affects our perception of our place in relation to nature, and of our powers.It appeared in 1844 in his Essays: Second Series (published in Boston by James Munroe in October of 1844 and in London by John Chapman in November of 1844).
Moreover, nature does not like to be observed and prevents us from focusing too clearly on objects that might offer insight through the material.Although temperament does color our perceptions and constrains our potential, the material approach to it discounts higher intuitive capabilities altogether and fails to recognize the direct, spontaneous transforming connection between God and the individual. Like temperament, man's need to move in succession from one object of focus to another — his disinclination to regard any one thing for too long — also influences his perception of experience and the world.Our innate love of absolutes draws us toward the permanent, but our human constitution requires "change of objects." After we have formed an impression of a book or a work of art, we want to move on, even though our lasting sense of that object may not be fully developed. Each book or work of art offers only partial insight into the whole.Grief does not bring us any closer to the people we have lost, and it does not change who we are.Emerson refers specifically to his own grief at the death of his son Waldo in 1842.This self-limitation necessitates our examining all of humankind to gain a sense of the whole.We must look at the weak as well as the admirable examples, because God underlies all of them.Each individual has his own educational value, as do all aspects of human experience in society — commerce, government, the church, marriage, and the various occupations.Power (used by Emerson to signify a kind of divinely imparted life force) speaks alternately through various examples of humanity but does not remain permanently in any one of them.Emerson turns to the subject of perspective, and to the way temperament and mood — both parts of man's makeup — affect perspective.He writes of dream and illusion, and of how we see only what we are capable of seeing.