The Useful Arts

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The Useful Arts To Emerson the “useful arts are reproductions or new combinations by wit of man, of the same benefactors.” In our society today one might think from this description that he would represent the most passionate pro-natural environment perspective. In fact, in Nature he admired the progress that came from technological success. In our day industrialism is at its peak and based on his definition of “useful arts”, Emerson would be levelheaded by the role of technology, and its affects on man and nature. Emerson was a great advocate of the bliss of mankind. He rationalized that this was accomplished, through human intellect. The wit of man was the imagination that was employed in finding better ways to use nature and therefore he commended the creativity of technological advances. For example, he advocates using the river to turn the wheel of a saw mill and man’s creation of the railroad. Additionally, Emerson supports the usage of the elements: water, fire, wind, and earth. These serve us day by day and cost us nothing. The harnessing of the water and the generation of steam were great advances. As a result he supports man’s employment of steam rather than waiting on "favoring gales," to drive him across the earth. Emerson states that “Nature, in its ministry to man, is not only the material, but also the process and the result. All the parts incessantly work into each other’s hands for the profit of man.” Emerson proposes that it is the purpose of Nature to serve. So, “by the wit of man,” we create technology; technology that helps serves human needs. We have created a multitude of energy sources us with the collection of natural forces for the benefit of civilization. With our global warming crisis and hand, Emerson would be pleased with the fact that we are currently looking for new and improved ways of using the natural world. Whether it
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