American Transcendentalism


"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to from only essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived" (Thoreau). was a literary and philosophical movement that emerged in New England around 1836 and flourished for ten years until 1846. This school of thought had a profound influence on American religion, philosophy, politics, literature, and art. The American Transcendentalist rejected this empiricism, asserting that wisdom is inherent in the soul of each human being. The roots of the Transcendentalists' humanistic philosophy is that which exalts the individual as a reflection ...

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with much of the sustaining language and metaphor of their philosophy.
Among the chief proponents of , Ralph Waldo Emerson is widely regarded as its central figure and catalyzing force. Critics often cite his essay Nature and An Address Delivered Before the Senior Class in Divinity College as touchstones of the movement. His subsequent essays, journals, and poems are credited with giving further shape to its ideals. Emerson was also an important inspiration to such authors as Walt Whitman, who,
along with Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Allan Poe, were strongly influenced by Transcendentalism (Mullen and Wilson 1).
Perhaps the best known and most influential of Emerson's immediate disciples is Henry David Thoreau, noted for his book Walden; or Life in the Woods, which has been regarded as a nature study, spiritual autobiography, and philosophical abstract, for his "Civil Disobedience", a seminal essay outlining peaceful social protest. Among ...

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problem or contradiction for Transcendentalism, which sees a "complementarily harmony of the individual and the universe" (Bousman 1).
"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away" (Derleth 14). Henry David Thoreau was one of Emerson's most noted disciples. Thoreau is renowned for his book, Walden, which is a record of Thoreau's two year experiment of living at Walden Pond. Thoreau's main emphasis is on the simplifications and enjoyment of life now. Thoreau's other noted work includes the essay "Resistance to Civil government" also known as "Civil ...

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Added: 5/27/2008 10:54:08 AM
Category: World History
Words: 1428
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