Emerson imagines nature as the ultimate form of the underlying reality of everything, including the natural world and human character. This perspective on nature is a direct reflection of the transcendentalist belief that there is an underlying consistency in every part of creation, which implies that observing one part of creation—including the self—should allow the perceiver to come to a better understanding of other parts of creation as well.
Emerson therefore represents nature and humans in contemplation of nature as an important source of knowledge. An individual looking at roses under his window isn’t just engaging with the material world, Emerson argues. Instead, looking at the roses and contemplating the relationship between each stage of the flower’s life allows the individual to live “above time” and escape an overreliance on the past. The ability of one part of nature to stand in the place of other parts of creation extends even to God. Emerson’s statement, “We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity,” references this idea of God as just another expression of transcendent truth.
Emerson also uses nature as a source of analogies to help explain his perspective on human nature. For example, Emerson contrasts the jagged outline of the Andes or Himalayas Mountains seen from close up with the insignificance of those variations when seen “in the curve of the sphere” to support his argument that apparent inconsistencies in human nature are only due to perspective. Emerson’s admiration for babies, infants, and boys are all rooted in an understanding of their human natures as ones that are closer to “nature” as whole because they have not yet conformed to societal expectations that come with adulthood, and instead function more on the basis of intuition.