As an American Scholar, It is my job to think for myself and share my thoughts and theories with the world. It is my job to not disregard past knowledge from books, or that was drilled into me in school, but to use that knowledge to inspire and to form my own ideas. It is my job to not follow the vast majorities, but take a different path, one that never “defers to the popular cry.”
Emerson, in his speech “The American Scholar”, voiced many “functions” or duties of the scholar, one of which is to use books only as inspiration. This is because though “the theory of books is noble”, no author can completely exclude any outside influence and write a book of pure thought. This gives a side duty to the scholars, that the scholar’s of each age must write their own books, so that the influence in the books is the same influence the people reading them are experiencing themselves.
“Never defer to the popular cry.” This statement of Emerson’s sounds strikingly similar to Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”, and many others have had the same thoughts on the subject: Don’t follow the crowds. This is still incredibly relatable to our present day society and the functions of the scholar. A scholar has so much to offer to their world, and following the crowds who influence them badly, can take away from all they have to offer. Letting others influence your thoughts and actions, as a scholar, can mean an end to being scholar. Nowadays it can mean becoming addicted to illegal substances, slacking on your work, and the rest of that downhill spiral that has a good probability of ending in prison or a rehab clinic. This tells the same message that Ralph Waldo Emerson was telling kids back in 1837: Don’t follow the crowds.
My duty as a scholar is to depend on myself for thoughts, and books and teachers and schools for inspiration. I am to not subjugate myself to being force-fed information, instead to be engaged in my schooling and form my own ideas from what I am taught. These are the roles of a scholar, and it is vital for the scholar to do these things to truly rise to be “Man Thinking”, which is the ultimate goal.