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The Philosophy Of Transcendentalism Essay

1284 words - 5 pages

Transcendentalism was a philosophy that became influential during the 1800's. It was based on the belief that knowledge is not limited to and solely derived from experience and observation but from the truths seem through reason. In the United Sates, transcendentalism became both a philosophy and a literary, religious, and social movement. Emphasis was placed mainly on oneness with nature and God while making the possibility of social change a reality. Ralph Waldo Emerson was the leading American transcendentalist whose theories were a primary influence in transcendentalist thought and writing. Through the knowledge and direction of Ralph Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau also became leading scholars of their time by means of their influence on early American intellectual history and literature.
“Transcendentalists were influenced by romanticism, particularly in the areas of self-examination, individualism, and the beauties of nature and humankind. Fixed by the Prospect of shaping the literary traditions of a new nation, the American Romantics tended to issue pronouncements about fundamentals, for example, the role of the artist in expressing, even creating, a national identity. Henry David Thoreau advocated American expression supported by Romantic-transcendentalist theories of organicism articulated by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nathaniel Hawthorne justified an indigenous romance fiction to plumb the depths of the human heart” (Allison, 1). They believed that a direct connection between the universe and the individual soul existed. Intuition, rather than reason, was regarded as the highest human ability. “Transcendental philosophy was based on the premise that truth is innate in all of creation and that the knowledge of it is intuitive rather than rational” (Wilson, 3). Other philosophies include returning to the simpler things of life and that man should love nature and learn from it. “Hawthorne, in his purpose to reveal the truth of the human heart, placed man in nature” (Elder, 49). “It is the true, the beautiful, the spiritual essence in nature and man. This grand and beautiful idea, of which diverse nature seems to be part, is the high reality-invisible, and truer and more real than what we can see with the eyes and touch with the finger” (Elder, 23). Ralph Waldo Emerson's tendency of thought is toward the idealist philosophy in which soul and intuition are central. Taking a rational, yet poetic interest in all of nature and individuals, Emerson stresses the potential for intellect and creativity in all people. “Nothing is possible within our distinctively human world without creative insight and interpretation. His attention to what it means to make something new and his concern about the influence of the past, of books and monuments, mark him as an important figure in the production of a national literature” (Carr, 10).
The Over-soul is the philosophy that the nature in which we reside creates our world in depth by means...

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