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What is man anyhow What am I What are you asks Whitman Who we are what our purpose is and what the meaning of life is are all mysteries that man has tried to solve from his earliest history Whitman and Emerson explore these ideas in their works Song of Myself and Self Reliance Whitman an American poet and Emerson an American philosopher take different approaches in their search for self-discovery yet within their solutions many parallels can be foundEmersons message is one of non-conformity and individuality He views every man as unique within and feels society exterior elements and tradition are mans downfall He urges us to be a product of ourselves to live in the present rather than measure our worth against mans past accomplishments or live by old ideasThere is contrast in Whitmans view which embraces all society and that which surrounds him He views all mankind and nature as intertwined in the past present and future in one perpetual cycle of life and death He speaks of the sameness of man and sees himself in everyone while Emerson stresses each man as different and apart from one anotherYet in their description of mans innermost thought they share a nearly identical ideal Emerson states that genius is to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men so agrees Whitman These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands they are not original with me Also complimenting each other are their ideas of great men throughout history Emerson says No greater men are than ever were a singular equality may be observed between the great men of the first and last years while Whitman proclaims Births have brought us richness and varietyI do not call one greater and one smaller That which fills its period and place is equal to any However while Emerson feels that what great men have in
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