Emerson - I Or We: Who Knows Better? Essay

This essay has a total of 738 words and 3 pages.

Emerson - I Or We: Who Knows Better?


Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true
for you in your private heart is true for all men - that is genius,” The mentality that
Emerson expressed in that quote is one that was a commonality among most Romantics: A
personal Truth was just as valid as a truth that has been proved by others.
Neoclassicists, on the other hand, believed that for an idea to become accepted as a fact,
outside sources had to repeatedly verify it. This disparity in thought was one of the
reactionary reversals that exemplify the differences of the two movements. While
Neoclassicists tended to be extroverted and reliant on the opinions of others to confirm
their own insights, Romantics tended to be withdrawn and found comfort in their own
thoughts, especially while in the presence of Nature. Embodiments of this difference in
thought abound in each movement’s literature; Neoclassicist writers frequently appeal to
the reader of their works to verify the presented information. Romantics, on the other
hand, tend to focus inward and rarely appeal to the reader for verification.


In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson made several attempts at acceptance
through the appeal to others. In the beginning of his work, he openly stated that in order
for the United States to validly declare independence from Britain, “a decent respect to
the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to
the separation.” This need for outside support was typical of Neoclassicist writers. The
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