A great American thinker discusses to what extent we control our own destiny, and other central concerns of human life in this collection of essays. Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the most important writers of 19th Century America, known for the broad range of his influences and for the optimism of his philosophy. Trained at Harvard Divinity School, he was nevertheless one of the first western thinkers to be deeply affected by Eastern wisdom, particularly the classic Indian spiritual text, the Bhagavad Gita. As the founder of Transcendentalism, the first truly American literary movement, he influenced such major figures as Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. The Conduct of Life is one of Emerson's most personal works from his mature years.