“What is man born for but to be a reformer, a remaker of what man has made; a renouncer of lies; a restorer of truth and good, imitating that great Nature which embosoms us all, and which sleeps no moment on an old past, but every hour repairs herself, yielding every morning a new day, and with every pulsation a new life?”
These sentiments are most characteristic of
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The excerpt, from an 1841 essay by transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson called “Man the Reformer,” reflects the characteristically transcendentalist celebration of nature as the source of human goodness and the justification of social reform. Emerson suggests this when he says when humans are “renouncer[s] of lies” and “restorer[s] of truth” in the same way that Nature “every hour repairs herself.” It also suggests that by improving society — a frequent goal of activists, intellectuals and religious thinkers in the 1830s and 1840s — people could become better aligned with the natural world.