in the whole book.
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Given the focus of his essays on topics like poetry, philosophy, and religion, Emerson may appear primarily oriented toward the humanities, but he was also deeply interested in science throughout his life (e.g., geology, astronomy, chemistry, and particularly botany). Indeed, he believed there was no necessary divide between the humanities and science, as both, he argued, aimed to articulate a theory of nature. Society merely changes and shifts like a wave. While a “wave moves onward… the water which it is composed does not.” As such, people are no greater than they ever were, and should not smugly rest on the laurels of past artistic and scientific achievements. They must instead actively work to achieve self-reliance, which entails a return to oneself, and liberation from the shackles of the religious, learned, and civil institutions that create a debilitating reliance on property (i.e., things external from the self).