American Transcendentalism Good CopyPresentation Transcript
American Transcendentalism “ It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, always do what you are afraid to do.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
A literary movement in the 1830’s that established a clear “American voice”.
Emerson first expressed his philosophy in his essay “Nature”.
A belief in a higher reality than that achieved by human reasoning.
Suggests that every individual is capable of discovering this higher truth through intuition.
Unlike Puritans, they saw humans and nature as possessing an innate goodness.
“In the faces of men and women, I see God” -Walt Whitman
Opposed strict ritualism and
dogma of established religion.
Transcendentalism: The tenets:
Believed in living close to nature/importance of nature. Everything in nature is a reflection of the Divine Soul--the source of truth and inspiration. (Helped people transcend to higher spiritual levels).
Believed in social reform and peace—a perfect Utopia.
Advocated self-trust/ confidence
Valued individuality/non-conformity/free thought/intuition (over science and laws)
Advocated self-reliance/ simplicity
The first transcendentalists
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau began “essential” living
Built a cabin on land owned to Emerson in Concord, Mass. near Walden Pond
Lived alone there
for two years studying nature and seeking truth within himself
“Still we live meanly like ants.”“Our life is frittered away by detail.”“Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?”“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. I say, let your affairs be as two or three and not a hundred or a thousand.”
Individuality “How deep the ruts of tradition and conformity.”
“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 he hears, however measured or far away.”