October 5, 2004

She philosophs: Connexions and Emerson

Bombarded by ideas. Yes, that is how I would classify my scholastic experience this year. I am taking Hebrew Scriptures, Philosophy (the biggie), and Western Cultures and Traditions. In the midst of all these classes, I am attempting to differentiate who goes with what era and what they believe. Can someone say "stressful"?

"American Literature," I thought, "now that's a class I can get away from all that..." Foolish Amanda.

Bombarded by ideas. Yes, that is how I would classify my scholastic experience this year. I am taking Hebrew Scriptures, Philosophy (the biggie), and Western Cultures and Traditions. In the midst of all these classes, I am attempting to differentiate who goes with what era and what they believe. Can someone say "stressful"?

"American Literature," I thought, "now that's a class I can get away from all that..." Foolish Amanda.

Emerson. After looking at the sixteen pages and feeling like I just killed three rainforests, I set to work grudgingly. Why? I read Emerson a bit in AP History--that dark era of my high school experience marked by profuse paper cuts and bulging eyes from reading with toothpicks propping up lids.

In other words, I was not looking forward to another reading of Emerson. Sixteen pages! I don't have time for that :-D or so I thought.

So I dove right in, thinking that I should get through the pain quickly. Instead, I was proved wrong once again. I don't say that with distaste. I love being proved wrong, especially by myself.

Emerson is set apart from some of the philosophers I have read so far: Richard Rorty, William James, and John Hick, but strangely similar to Socrates and Marcus Aurelius. I apologize for crossing subjects and eras. I do it all the time in my head; it really works when you are studying to associate one philosopher to another.

Emerson in "Self Reliance", like Socrates in "The Apology", speaks about the supremacy of the self. Both Emerson and Socrates believe in a divine being, however; Emerson repeatedly alluding to biblical principles of "the Last Judgment" and the Almighty, while Socrates relates to the gods.

Ludicrous! I thought upon first glance. How can one put so much stock in themselves and still believe in something greater than that Self? Then I realized that that was what they are trying to express; the divine cannot be reached through a dogma or societal influence, but through internal reflection. Emerson, for example, explains,

I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. ON my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested, --"But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, "They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the devil's child, I will live then from the devil."

Socrates has a similar experience in addressing the Greek assembly. "For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul."

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor, also carried these values. "Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul;" he wrote in Meditations, "above all he who possesses resources in himself, which he need only contemplate to secure immediate ease of mind--the ease that is but another word for a well-ordered spirit."

So what? Here I sit with my three texts open on my desk and wonder...so what...

Emerson brings a vitality to these old ideas, bringing them to a modern culture. When he relates that "libraries overload the wit", for example, I can relate to that. When Socrates says that he goes about the forum all day long looking for young men to persuade, I am a bit distanced by the reference.

Emerson makes it close, keeping you reading. I can say that I read every page of that selection, and I enjoyed it too. In the future, when things calm down and I can sort through the philosophers that make sense to me, I know I will return to Emerson and find a depth there that I had not previously noticed.

The great works, I am learning, such as the Bible, you may return to again and again, picking up fragments and placing them in the puzzle of your mind, coming closer and closer with each reading to a better, fuller understanding of the writer.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at October 5, 2004 7:17 PM
Comments

*shouts* "Stressful!"

Haha, anyway, I'm glad to hear that it's not all cipher and logic in all that philosophing. Love that made-up verb, don'cha? ;)

Posted by: Karissa at October 5, 2004 9:33 PM

You got that. :-D

Posted by: Amanda at October 5, 2004 10:25 PM

Amanda... I hope you continue to explore your newfound identity as a philosophmore.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 5, 2004 11:35 PM

LOL! :^D
Philosophomore. I like it. Am I a "philosophomore," too, I must ask?

Posted by: Karissa at October 6, 2004 9:11 AM

You have become a sophomore and your blogs have been philosophing more lately; I think that qualifies you for philosophomore status.

Posted by: Amanda at October 7, 2004 5:30 PM

Woot! Philosophomore, am I!
This whole making-up-language-as-we-go thing is awesome... and it totally cracks me up :)

Posted by: Karissa at October 9, 2004 5:23 PM
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