An overview of the transcendentalism movement in 19th century

Emerson declared he wanted no followers; it would disappoint him if his ideas created hangers-on rather than "independence;" he would then doubt his own theories and fear he was guilty of some "impurity of insight. This picture of Whitman with a butterfly appeared in the edition.

Members, including Thoreau, participated actively in helping the Underground Railroad. As Emerson says, when they learn to translate, through intuition, the external symbols of nature, they can read the underlying spiritual facts: People, men and women equally, have knowledge about themselves and the world around them that "transcends" or goes beyond what they can see, hear, taste, touch or feel.

People can trust themselves to be their own authority on what is right. Skepticism about religion was also engendered by the publication of an English translation of F. Emerson moved there in partly because he inherited property there and later was followed by writers like Bronson Alcott, Ellery Channing, and Sanborn who wished to be near him.

He was also the founder of the Transcendental Club. A great admirer of Emerson, Thoreau nevertheless was his own man — described variously as strange, gentle, fanatic, selfish, a dreamer, a stubborn individualist. It can stand, and it can go. Humans are innately depraved and must struggle toward goodness.

Circa Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and Dikinson The Transcendentalist movement dramatically shaped the trend in American literature. Thoreau envisioned protests like this: Emerson, and others, believed in what he called the Oversoul Walt Whitman called it the "float".

It is only from such real individuals that true community can form. Finally, because nature is the creation and possession of God, humans cannot interpret or understand any symbolism it may contain.


Transcendentalism earned a reputation as a "collection of miscellany" because such variety of thought is built into the definition. In the s there were two attempts to revive transcendentalism but both failed.

How did this new idea shape the American history? 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.

Transcendentalists were idealistic and optimistic because they believed they could find answers to whatever they were seeking. Alcott replaced the hard benches of the common schools with more comfortable furniture that he built himself, and left a central space in his classrooms for dancing.

It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts.

Concord, Massachusetts, a village not far from Cambridge, was the home of leaders of another important New England group. This philosophy led to an optimistic emphasis on individualism and the value of the individual over society.

Thoreau gave lectures too but was never as popular as Emerson. This community never received sufficient personal and financial backing to succeed, after several years it turned to Fourierism and then collapsed.

It was against this background that Emerson asked inin the first paragraph of Nature: Nature now becomes particular: Thoreau suggests that Walden is or aspires to be such a book; and indeed the enduring construction from his time at Walden is not the cabin he built but the book he wrote.Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Other important transcendentalists were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, and Theodore Parker. Definition of Transcendentalist. 19th Century History. A Transcendentalist was a follower of an American philosophical movement known as Transcendentalism which emphasized the importance of the individual and was a break from more formalized religions.

Transcendentalism is a school of philosophical thought that developed in 19th century America. Important trancendentalist thinkers include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. Definition of Transcendentalism.

Transcendentalism was an idealistic literary and philosophical movement of the midth century. Beginning in New England invarious visionaries, intellectuals, scholars, and writers would come together regularly to discuss spiritual ideas. Transcendentalism, 19th-century movement of writers and philosophers in New England who were loosely bound together by adherence to an idealistic system of thought based on a belief in the essential unity of all creation, the innate goodness of humanity, and the supremacy of insight over logic and experience for the revelation of the deepest truths.

In-depth overview of Transcendentalism movement-"Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson."-Transcendentalist felt isolated, and questioned the world around them.

This included religion.

26f. Transcendentalism, An American Philosophy Download
An overview of the transcendentalism movement in 19th century
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