Ralph Waldo Emerson’s theory of individualism is a stance that emphasizes the importance of self-reliance for personal success. One of the main tenets of the theory claims that a genius is someone who perseveres with one’s plans regardless of others’ opinions and that nothing is sacred other than the integrity of one’s own mind. This essay will further discuss this tenet to support Emerson’s Individualism. People should live their lives without being burdened by the opinions of others.
Emerson, in reference to babes, writes “their mind being whole, their eye is as yet unconquered… nfancy conforms to nobody; all conform to it. ” All of the greatest inventions came about from someone who did not conform to society. Society ends up conforming to those who follow their own dreams, as adults conform to the ways a child acts. In today’s society, success is often measured by a person’s wealth, status and fame. However, no one should judge what success and failure is aside from the person it concerns.
Very often society looks down on those who do not conform to its rigid structure. If a person does what everyone else is doing, who will innovate?
Unsurprisingly, all those considered successful were those who broke out of the mold and followed their own vision. A genius is someone who perseveres with his or her plans regardless of the negativity around them. Thomas Edison’s teacher said that he was too stupid to learn anything. Although the number of attempts varies, there is a consensus that the lowest number of times Edison failed to create the light bulb was around 1,000. When asked how he felt about failing so much, Edison answered, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times.
The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. ” Emerson writes “God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. ” Whether or not a person is religious, the meaning holds true. No coward has ever been able to achieve anything great because cowards tend to give up easily. Another one of Edison’s famous quotes states, “genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. ” This claim supports Emerson’s Individualism because it takes a genius to perspire and work through the numerous obstacles that stand between him or her and success.
Everything can be broken and worked around other than what a person truly believes. Emerson’s theory argues that if a person were to betray his or her own belief, it could be damaging beyond repair. Emerson states, “ if I’m the devil then I shall be the devil,” suggesting only a person’s mind can truly decide what is moral and what is immoral. Emerson also writes, “to believe your own thought, to believe what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,-that is genius.
This is how revolutions happen, when a large group of people decides that the laws are no longer right. No law, no life, is greater than a person’s own beliefs because Emerson states, “nothing is sacred other than the integrity of your own mind. ” A successful person is often, if not always, fully dedicated to what they believe in because a person will never give up on something they believe to be truly right. Emerson’s theory of Individualism doesn’t encourage selfishness because that would be a moral judgment. The theory does not make any statements of morality.
It claims that a person should rely only on himself or herself to make decisions and to define what they believe to be right and wrong. Outside forces should not be relied on or even considered when trying to achieve personal goals. If a person believes that failures are actually successes because they bring them one step closer to the final goal, failure does not exist. Success and happiness will come to a person as long as he or she relies on his or her own judgment, perseveres regardless of the negativity of external influences, and stays true to their minds without breaking their integrity.