Emerson's Essays By Ralph Waldo Emerson Summary and Analysis of The Over-Soul Paragraphs 11-15 - The Soul and Society

Emerson now focuses on how the Over-Soul unites people and manifests itself in society. He asserts that God's spirit is present in our every conversation: "In all conversation between two persons, tacit reference is made as to a third party, to a common nature. That third party is not social; it is impersonal; is God." This presence is also evident in groups of people, who, once recognizing its presence, act more nobly.

The theme of accessibility plays a key role in this common bond between us. Because each person possesses an individual soul that is part of the Over-Soul, all people — "the greatest person with the lowest" — are aware of God when speaking with one another. The soul acts as our intermediary, but we do not mention this bond when we converse, perhaps because language cannot satisfactorily describe its existence.

Touching on an important point that he discusses at greater length in "Self-Reliance," Emerson implores us to "act entirely," without consideration of what society thinks. We should act on our thoughts before they are filtered through society's demands for normalcy and consistency. Although God exists in every one of us, society's pressures cause us to behave differently and unnaturally than God would have us act; this disparity creates a rift between our souls and the Over-Soul, which does not give partly of itself-as does the person who is afraid of inconsistency — but wholly.

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