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The features of transcendentalism and its representatives

Origin[ edit ] Transcendentalism is closely related to Unitarianismthe dominant religious movement in Boston in the early nineteenth century. Transcendentalism was not a rejection of Unitarianism; rather, it developed as an organic consequence of the Unitarian emphasis on free conscience and the value of intellectual reason.

The transcendentalists were not content with the sobriety, mildness, and calm rationalism of Unitarianism. Instead, they longed for a more intense spiritual experience.

  1. I mean, we have yet no man who has leaned entirely on his character, and eaten angels' food; who, trusting to his sentiments, found life made of miracles; who, working for universal aims, found himself fed, he knew not how; clothed, sheltered, and weaponed, he knew not how, and yet it was done by his own hands.
  2. Cameron was especially capable in recovering and reprinting sources for works of Emerson and Thoreau. An important expression of Romanticism in the United States, it is principally associated with the work of essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson; journalist and feminist theorist Margaret Fuller; Unitarian minister and antislavery advocate Theodore Parker; and essayist, naturalist, and political theorist Henry David Thoreau.
  3. Hill and Wang, 2007. The introductory essay by Charles Capper pp.
  4. University of Georgia Press, 2007.
  5. An important expression of Romanticism in the United States, it is principally associated with the work of essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson; journalist and feminist theorist Margaret Fuller; Unitarian minister and antislavery advocate Theodore Parker; and essayist, naturalist, and political theorist Henry David Thoreau.

Thus, transcendentalism was not born as a counter-movement to Unitarianism, but as a parallel movement to the very ideas introduced by the Unitarians.

From 1840, the group frequently published in their journal The Dialalong with other venues. Second wave of transcendentalists[ edit ] By the late 1840s, Emerson believed that the movement was dying out, and even more so after the death of Margaret Fuller in 1850.

It focuses primarily on personal freedom.

Transcendentalism

Their beliefs are closely linked with those of the Romanticsbut differ by an attempt to embrace or, at least, to not oppose the empiricism of science. Transcendental knowledge[ edit ] Transcendentalists desire to ground their religion and philosophy in principles based upon the German Romanticism of Herder and Schleiermacher.

Transcendentalism merged "English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder and Schleiermacherand the skepticism of Hume ", [1] and the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant and of German Idealism more generallyinterpreting Kant's a priori categories as a priori knowledge. The transcendental movement can be described as an American outgrowth of English Romanticism. Individualism[ edit ] Transcendentalists believe that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—corrupt the purity of the individual.

They have faith that people are at their best when truly "self-reliant" and independent. It is only from such real individuals that true community can form.

  1. In their initial phase, the transcendentalists extended the Unitarian theological rebellion against Puritan Calvinism, moving toward a post-Christian spirituality that held each man and woman capable of spiritual development and fulfillment.
  2. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well.
  3. Their thought is compared with the later philosophers William James and George Santayana.

Even with this necessary individuality, transcendentalists also believe that all people are outlets for the " Over-soul. Indian religions[ edit ] Transcendentalism has been directly influenced by Indian religions. Henry David Thoreau In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions.

I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo!

I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.

Some adherents link it with utopian social change; Brownsonfor example, connected it with early socialism, but others consider it an exclusively individualist and idealist project. Emerson believed the latter; in his 1842 lecture " The Transcendentalist ", he suggested that the goal of a purely transcendental outlook on life was impossible to attain in practice: You will see by this sketch that there is no such thing as a transcendental party; that there is no pure transcendentalist; that we know of no one but prophets and heralds of such a philosophy; that all who by strong bias of nature have leaned to the spiritual side in doctrine, have stopped short of their goal.

We have had many harbingers and forerunners; but of a purely spiritual life, history has afforded no example. I mean, we have yet no man who has leaned entirely on his character, and eaten angels' food; who, trusting to his sentiments, found life made of miracles; who, working for universal aims, found himself fed, he knew not how; clothed, sheltered, and weaponed, he knew not how, and yet it was done by his own hands.

Shall we say, then, that transcendentalism is the Saturnalia or excess of Faith; the presentiment of a faith proper to man in his integrity, excessive only when his imperfect obedience hinders the satisfaction of his wish. Influence on other movements[ edit ].