An example of how to write an argument paper with this case being Emerson’s speech on books.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a notable transcendentalist, was very vocal on a variety of subjects. Being a transcendentalist, he believed in intuition and self-reliance rather than logic and conformity. This basic transcendentalist view is clearly seen in Emerson’s speech, “The American Scholar,” except it’s applied towards books. The speech was delivered at Cambridge and was most likely addressed towards very bright students who have probably read a lot of literature. His attitude towards the “act of creation—the act of thought” which “is instantly transferred to the record” is fairly negative. Emerson believes that as these young scholars of Cambridge read and absorb the works of the past, they lose sight of real life. Then these young scholars will write from the perspective and principles of older writers instead of their “original” ideas. While it is true that new generations of writers are influenced to a degree by the writings of older generations, it does not mean they are incapable of presenting new, profound ideas. Emerson is incorrect in saying that books blind a writer’s perception of the world for what it truly is; books present ideas that can be built upon by new generations of writers.
As Emerson mentioned, an example of these books that present ideas which can be built upon by their readers are those of John Locke. Locke’s writings present ideas that have had a profound impact on the world with things such as natural rights and limited government. Emerson claims that “meek young men” have blindly accepted Locke’s views as infallible, but in actuality, they are inspired by them. How else would the United States, a country found on Locke’s ideas of natural rights and limited government, have been found? If the Founding Fathers had not built a country based off of Locke’s principles, Emerson may have never begun the transcendentalist movement nor would he have given this speech.
However, Emerson did give this speech because of Locke’s writings. From this speech, Emerson also claims that the truth is distorted from books. While books may distort the truth to some degree depending on the view point, it doesn’t mean the reader will wholeheartedly accept it. Many people would reject Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf,” if they had read it because of its anti-Semitism. The reader has the ability to choose whether they accept Hitler’s version of the truth or not. On the other hand, Emerson is assuming readers will accept most of the things they read. Information from writing can only be built upon rather than be a force of control over the reader.
“Each age, it is found, must write its own books…” This is clearly one point that is the truth. Books which contain the thoughts of past writers aren’t gods meant to be worshipped by later generations. They just present what the writer sees as the truth in his time. These truths as seen by the writer can be built upon by newer generations of writers and scholars.