The Author's Definition of Commodity in Nature, a Book by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature has always been a subject of fascination for humanity, and in his work, Ralph Waldo Emerson delves into the intricate relationship between humans and the natural world. In this chapter, Emerson focuses on how we perceive the objects around us, particularly the landscape that surrounds us. As a poet, Emerson contemplates how he can best combine all that he sees in nature. He emphasizes the importance of observing certain objects such as stars, the landscape, and the poet himself.

Emerson draws attention to the stars, which he believes are often taken for granted because of their constant presence in our lives.

Regardless of where we are, the stars are always there, yet their distance from us makes them seem inaccessible and elusive. This notion of the stars being both present and distant serves as a metaphor for the way we perceive the world around us.

The concept of "commodity" is introduced by Emerson as a physical necessity that nature provides to support our earthly existence.

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He explains how various elements such as metals, plants, animals, and the basic elements of earth, air, fire, and water all work together to nourish humanity. By creating art that mimics nature, humans integrate themselves into this pattern of integration, further emphasizing the interconnectedness of all living beings.

Moving on from the discussion of commodity, Emerson explores the idea of beauty as a higher want of humanity than commodity. While beauty is not essential for physical survival, it serves a purpose in enriching our lives.

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Emerson uses the image of a circle to illustrate the concept of beauty, suggesting that a landscape with perfect order and symmetry can be likened to a well-colored and shaded globe. This perfect harmony in nature reflects the inherent beauty that surrounds us.

In the following chapter, Emerson delves into the relationship between nature and language, highlighting how words represent objects in nature. He uses etymology to show that abstract terms are derived from words for physical things, suggesting that language is a series of metaphors that symbolize the natural world. Emerson asserts that people can come to know nature gradually through the faculties of Understanding and Reason, which allow us to perceive the similarities and differences among natural objects.

Emerson then tackles the question of subjective truth and the challenges of verifying the reality of external existence. He acknowledges the limitations of human perception and the difficulty of proving the existence of nature as something distinct from ourselves. Despite these uncertainties, Emerson maintains that nature possesses spiritual properties that transcend our understanding.

In his exploration of nature's vital unity, Emerson delves into mystical truths that elude ordinary comprehension. He grapples with the concept of a universal spirituality that fills nature, acknowledging the mystery and complexity of this spiritual essence. While our critical understanding of nature's spirit may be incomplete, Emerson argues that this ignorance does not diminish the significance of recognizing the spiritual essence that permeates the natural world.

Emerson concludes his work with reflections on how to study nature, advocating for intuition as a more effective means of understanding than empirical science. He criticizes the reductionist approach of science, which focuses on individual objects without considering their broader context in nature. Emerson's emphasis on intuition and holistic understanding underscores the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of recognizing the spiritual essence that binds us to the natural world.

In conclusion, Ralph Waldo Emerson's exploration of nature in his work serves as a profound reflection on the interconnectedness of all living beings and the spiritual essence that permeates the natural world. Through his contemplation of beauty, language, and the mysteries of nature, Emerson invites readers to consider their place within the intricate web of life and to appreciate the profound unity that binds us to the natural world.


Updated: Feb 15, 2024
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The Author's Definition of Commodity in Nature, a Book by Ralph Waldo Emerson. (2022, Apr 21). Retrieved from

The Author's Definition of Commodity in Nature, a Book by Ralph Waldo Emerson essay
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