Waldo Emerson was born on May 25, 1803, in Boston,
Massachusetts. He is widely regarded as one of America's
most influential authors,
philosophers and thinkers. At one time a Unitarian minister,
Emerson left his pastorate because of doctrinal disputes with his
superiors. Soon after, on a trip to Europe, he met a number of
intellectuals, including Thomas Carlyle and William Wordsworth.
The ideas of
these men, along with those of Plato and some of the Hindu,
Buddhist, and Persian thinkers, strongly influenced his
development of the philosophy of "Transcendentalism."
In 1836 Emerson expressed Transcendentalism's main principle of
the "mystical unity of nature" in his essay,
independent thinking and stressed that not all life's answers are
found in books.
In his "The American Scholar" address to the Phi Beta
Kappa Society at Cambridge in 1837 Emerson states that:
"Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the
worst." He believed that a scholar learns best by engaging
life. Emerson's essays on "The Conduct of Life" outline
what one might do to engage life "skillfully."