American transcendentalism essay

Dickinson During 19th century American literature, orthodox teachings and values are evident in most literary works, which is an evidence of the strong influence religion has over the American society. It is noted that during this period, a new form of religion is emerging as one of the dominant religious organizations in the est, particularly the Protestant religion.

American transcendentalism essay

Three main currents contributed to this uniquely American school of thought: From neo-Platonism — as nineteenth-century educated Americans understood it — came the belief in the primacy of intellectual thinking over material reality, an idea originated by the Greek philosopher Plato.

Through a series of dramatic dialogues, Plato argues that there are ideal forms existing in an absolute reality; in the material world in which we live, all objects and phenomena are imperfect representations of these ideals.

Our entire lives are spent trying to American transcendentalism essay ourselves and our environment in hopes of attaining an ideal existence. Agreeing with Plato, philosophers like Emerson and his fellow transcendentalist Amos Bronson Alcott go so far as to say that ideas are the only reality: The tangible world exists solely as a manifestation of pure ideas.

This preoccupation with pure ideas also appears in the writings of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who was first to use the term "transcendentalism. Kant believes that transcendental knowledge is limited because, as humans, we can understand only what we are capable of perceiving.

If we cannot perceive something, it simply does not exist. They argue that simply because we cannot perceive something does not mean that it does not exist. Emerson maintains that the soul exists, but he admits that he cannot define what this soul is, other than acknowledging when he senses it in himself or in another person.

British romanticism also influenced Emerson and transcendentalism. Romantics such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge advocate the primacy of the individual over the community and foster a belief in the authenticity of individual vision over the conventions and formalities of institutions.

American transcendentalism essay

Both movements emphasize personal insight, or intuition, as a privileged form of knowledge. He is not the visionary that others influenced by Swedenborg are, but he advocates an ecstatic, visionary approach to life and to knowledge.

Many of his essays express admiration for Swedenborg and acknowledge the influence that Swedenborg had on his own thinking. The major emphasis of American transcendentalism is transcendence, which involves reaching beyond what can be expressed in words or understood in logical or rational thinking to seek the genesis of our existence.

By gaining a new understanding, we attain a heightened awareness of the world and our rightful place in it. Emerson refers to this all-encompassing force that he credits for the mystery of our existence by various terms: God, the Universal Being, the Over-Soul.

He closely identifies nature with this force, to the extent that, finally, his philosophy is generally judged to be pantheistic rather than theistic.

That is, God coexists with nature, sharing similar powers, rather than being a power beyond it. According to transcendentalists like Emerson, a person who follows intuition and remains faithful to personal vision will become a more moral, idealistic individual.

Transcendentalism also provided one major philosophical foundation for the abolition of slavery. However, while individuals such as Emerson combined transcendentalism with spirituality, the essentially pantheistic nature of the theory paved the way for more materialistic and exploitative expression.

The doctrine of self-reliance mutated from an expression of moral integrity to a simple assertion of self-promotion and selfishness. To a great extent, transcendentalism was a local phenomenon centered in Concord, Massachusetts, and was developed by a group of individuals from New England and New York who knew and communicated closely with each other.

Their ideas were seldom successfully put into action, but at least one attempt is worthy of mention. Brook Farm, a utopian community founded on transcendentalist principles, lasted some six or seven years before it dissolved, to the financial loss of many who had invested in the venture.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. The transcendentalists supported women's rights and the abolition of slavery, and were critical of organized religion and government. Transcendentalism Essay - Transcendentalism was an early philosophical, intellectual, and literary movement that thrived in New England in the nineteenth century.

Transcendentalism was a collection of new ideas about literature, religion, and philosophy. Good Essay Topics on Transcendentalism. One of the most important things to understand before writing an essay is the subject of it.

To write good transcendentalism essays, you should stick to rules on how to write an essay and keep an appropriate structure for it. American Transcendentalism American transcendentalism was an important movement in philosophy and literature that flourished during the early to . Overview American transcendentalism was an important movement in philosophy and literature that flourished during the early to middle years of the nineteenth century (about ).

Emerson’s definition of Transcendentalism according to Meg Brulatour is that of an individual pursuit guided by intuition and self-reliance.

Commitment to Privacy - Virginia Commonwealth University