Thesis

Conduct of life in the me decade

Emerson has often been criticized as unrealistically optimistic, but he revised some of his theme in the late 1850s, taking into consideration the limitations that nature and society impose on the individual. In the essay “Fate,” he propounds a conduct of life that he believes to be valid in all times. Putting that theory to the test, this paper examines the ideas in “Fate” (the keynote essay in The Conduct of Life), relating them to the 1970s. Two contemporary writers deal indirectly with Emerson by addressing the popular trend toward self-actualization. Social critic Tom Wolfe analyzes the religious nature of this trend and demonstrates that it is not the growth of an Emersonian individualism. Psychiatrist Wayne W. Dyer provides a manual designed to implement the conduct of life that Emerson suggested. The books of these two authors indicate that, though Emerson is rarely mentioned in connection with self-actualization, his influence today—at all levels of society—is possibly greater than it has been at any time in the past.

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