Both considering themselves transcendentalists, there should similarities between Thoreau and Emerson, yet there is more than a noticeable similarity between the two writers. Thoreau and Emerson share common views on their logical reasoning for issues. Both writers stress an importance of the individual over the society. Henry David Thoreau expresses this thought by accepting the motto "That government is best which governs least" in the first sentence of his essay Resistance to Civil Government. These similarities may have developed through Thoreau's reading of Emerson's Nature essay.
Emerson and Thoreau realized that Nature is evasive, an idea so complex that man could never quite grasp. Still, for both of these men, there was thrill in the extraordinary chase for answers that remained just outside of their comprehension. Emerson and Thoreau also view nature as voice. Emerson calls nature " the organ through which the universal spirit speaks to the individual, and strives to lead back the individual to it." Emerson and Thoreau saw nature as a constant expression of their spirits.
They both considered human beings as the most significant entity of the universe. Though, a group of humans does not have more importance than a single individual, Emerson's insistence on being an individual and finding the truth within you is astonishing. He says: ""Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Thoreau followed the same way, as well; but he chose the government as his target: "The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.".
Though they described actions in differently, Emerson and Thoreau view actions the same. Emerson says, "without it (action) he is not yet man. Without it thought can never ripen into truth." Both men believe if the world does not have actions, then the entire world would be the equivalent to various hypothesizes.