Literary movements


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notes on empiricism, rationalism, romanticism, and transcendentalism

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Literary movements

  1. 1. Philosophical and Literary MovementsEuropean and American changes in perspective
  2. 2. EmpiricismAccording to the ideas of empiricism, experience is the only source of our knowledge. None of us can truly know anything except through our own senses. This was the idea of the tabula rasa, that each of us is born as a blank slate waiting to be affected by the experiences we perceive through our own senses. Empiricism denies any innate knowledge, any knowledge unrelated to experience.
  3. 3. John Locke – 1632–1704 Father of Empiricism
  4. 4. Rationalism – 1650-1800• Reason is the source of all knowledge.• NOT – Acceptance of authority – Empiricism – Spiritual revelation The Founding Fathers of the U.S. were rationalists. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were planned, logical documents. Washington, D.C. was a rationally planned city.
  5. 5. Rationalists at Work
  6. 6. The Age of Enlightenment• The era when Rationalism was strongest.• The time when doctrines (divine right of kings) and institutions (monarchy, the church) were viewed from the point of view of Rationalism.• Led to a change in assumptions about those doctrines and institutions.
  7. 7. Utilitarianism• The right act or policy was that which would cause "the greatest good for the greatest number of people", also known as "the greatest happiness principle", or the principle of utility. He wrote in The Principles of Morals and Legislation:• “ Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do."
  8. 8. Jeremy Bentham – 1748-1832 advocate of Utilitarianism
  9. 9. The Romantic Movement – late 18th C. to late 19th C.• Stressed strong emotions and imagination• Freedom from artistic correctness• Rebellion against social conventions (rules)
  10. 10. Lord Byrontossing aside social conventions
  11. 11. Transcendentalism• Began with Emerson’s essay “Nature” in 1836• Knowledge is derived from intuitive sources, NOT from experience.• Knowledge is from somewhere within us that is beyond personal experience.• Stressed the human connection with the natural world• Died out as a movement in the late 19th C., but is it something we still live with?
  12. 12. Add to your Timeline:• 1600 – William Shakespeare• 1650 – Anne Bradstreet’s poetry published• 1680 - Edward Taylor poetry• 1692 – Salem witch trials• 1776 – Declaration of Independence• 1789 – French Revolution