The diversity of the subject matter of their criticism and writing can be attributed to the range of intellectual interests the group shared, as well as their use of sources from the western tradition and from abroad (Capper 683).
It was in this period that Emerson penned his second collection of which was published in 1841. Emerson uses the essay as a vehicle for stressing the importance of the individual’s intellectual and moral development, and for making a defensive statement supporting individualism itself (Belasco 683).
It is important to note here that the Calvinist belief was that the individual had absolutely no control over their ultimate spiritual fate through their actions in life.
This orthodox belief asserts the Holy Trinity, through which God presents himself, elects those men chosen for salvation or condemnation - a fate decided before the creation of the world (Hutchison 3).
In order to fully understand American Transcendentalism, and Emerson’s place in it, the movement’s origin and evolution must first be explored.
The roots of American Transcendentalism reach back into the eighteenth century.
In doing this, he sets out to support the ideology of the individual that lies at the core of Transcendentalism.
Robinson indicates that “Self-Reliance” deals with the fall of humanity, and it’s saving throw, disciplined attention to the inner self (Robinson “Grace and Works” 226).
Plagued by a lack of self-confidence at this time, Emerson was struggling with the decision to commit himself to a career in the ministry.
Channing’s poetic style from the pulpit encouraged Emerson, who had previously found Unitarian theological and doctrinal preaching distasteful.