Transcendentalism ideas of the nineteenth century literary writers

Social historians look back today and see that other cultures suffered at the hands of American settlers and American industry. He encouraged a healthy level of doubt and skepticism, but not to the point of nihilistic despair. Emerson refuted evil, insisting it was not an entity in itself, but simply the absence of good.

Ina small group of them, including author Nathaniel Hawthornemoved to a property named Brook Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

In The Maine Woods, Thoreau records a climb on Mount Ktaadn in Maine when he confronted the alien materiality of the world; and in Cape Codhe records the foreignness, not the friendliness, of nature: Thousands died along the way.

Emerson lacked the vitality and desire to follow in her path. Until that time, American literature had merely replicated the fashions of Europe. Humans are innately depraved and must struggle toward goodness. An earlier transcendentalist scandal surrounded the publication of Amos Bronson Alcott's Conversations with Children Upon the Gospels Emerson was a man of deep faith, though in his personal life he was struck down more than once by tragedy.

Individualism[ edit ] Transcendentalists believe that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—corrupt the purity of the individual.

The citizen has no duty to resign his conscience to the state, and may even have a duty to oppose immoral legislation such as that which supports slavery and the Mexican War.


Without external constraint, such as societal mores, people are free to wreak havoc, motivated by immediate need and the desire for sensory gratification. Not content to simply muse and write about the new way of thinking, Thoreau sought to live the Transcendental life to its fullest potential.

To "transcend" society one must first be able to look past and beyond it. They were one of the more assimilated tribes, whose members owned property, drove carriages, used plows and spinning wheels, and even owned slaves.

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. We must trust the perfection of the creation so far as to believe that whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened in our minds, the order of things can satisfy.

This was a meeting of a much larger group that included many Unitarian ministers, intellectuals, writers and reformers. The father of the movement, an appellation he probably did not relish, was Ralph Waldo Emerson.

One must follow intuition and not conform to contrary social decree. Society would grind to a halt were the whole world to go on leave. The individualist politics of Henry David Thoreau sometimes earned him the label of anarchist.

In his most famous essay, "The American Scholar," he urged Americans to stop looking to Europe for inspiration and imitation and be themselves. Charles Dickens said, "I was given to understand that whatever was unintelligible would certainly be Transcendental".

In like manner, nature is already, in its forms and tendencies, describing its own design. Specifically, the imagination was glorified as one of the defining, almost divine characteristics of consciousness. Origin[ edit ] Transcendentalism is closely related to Unitarianismthe dominant religious movement in Boston in the early nineteenth century.

More than any other collection of documents, the publication history of The Dial reveals the heart, soul, and mind of the Transcendental Movement. Emerson was somewhat reluctant to attach his name to progressive political initiatives.

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.

Both he and Emerson kept journals from which their published works were derived. In their religious quest, the Transcendentalists rejected the conventions of 18th-century thought, and what began in a dissatisfaction with Unitarianism developed into a repudiation of the whole established order.

The loss was deeply felt by Emerson. In contrast to the scientific revolutions which were daily adding to the store of facts, Kant concerned himself with the abstractions of existence — those things which cannot be known for sure.

Where Emerson saw limitless potential and a growing confidence, Hawthorne saw doubt, mistakes, and the darker side of human nature struggling towards the surface.

And they had faith that all would be well because humans could transcend limits and reach astonishing heights. The Puritan forebears planted the seed of American exceptionalism, which grew fast and strong in the intellectual atmosphere of nineteenth century New England.

Both he and Emerson kept journals from which their published works were derived. It focuses primarily on personal freedom.


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. Among these were literary figures Nathaniel Hawthorne. 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.

Transcendentalism was a literary movement in the first half of the 19th century. Transcendentalists were influenced by romanticism, especially such aspects of self examination, the celebration of individualism, and the exploring the beauties of nature and of humankind.

It has inspired succeeding generations of American intellectuals, as well as some literary movements. [20] Transcendentalism influenced the growing movement of "Mental Sciences" of the midth century, which would later become known as the New Thought movement. It has inspired succeeding generations of American intellectuals, as well as some literary movements.

[20] Transcendentalism influenced the growing movement of "Mental Sciences" of the midth century, which would later become known as the New Thought movement. 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.

Transcendentalism ideas of the nineteenth century literary writers
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Transcendentalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)