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Encyclopedia > Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism was a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that emerged in New England in the early-to mid-19th century. It is sometimes called American Transcendentalism to distinguish it from other uses of the word transcendental. Old book bindings at the Merton College library. ... Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning to cultivate), generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... Transcendental in philosophical contexts In philosophy, transcendental experiences are experiences of an exclusively human nature that are other-worldly or beyond the human realm of understanding. ...


Transcendentalism began as a protest against the general state of culture and society at the time, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard and the doctrine of the Unitarian church which was taught at Harvard Divinity School. Among Transcendentalists' core beliefs was an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical and is only realized through the individual's intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religions. Young people interacting within a an ethnically diverse society. ... An intellectual is a person who uses his or her intellect to study, reflect, and speculate on a variety of different ideas. ... Harvard University is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and a member of the Ivy League. ... Historic Unitarianism believed in the oneness of God as opposed to traditional Christian belief in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). ... Harvard Divinity School is one of the constituent schools of Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States. ... Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit. ...


Prominent Transcendentalists included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, as well as Bronson Alcott, Orestes Brownson, William Ellery Channing, Frederick Henry Hedge, Theodore Parker, George Putnam, and Sophia Peabody, the wife of Nathaniel Hawthorne. For a time, Peabody and Hawthorne lived at the Brook Farm Transcendentalist utopian commune. Later Hawthorne became an anti-transcendentalist. Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. ... Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862; born David Henry Thoreau[1]) was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, and philosopher who is best known for Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance... Margaret Fuller, by Marchioness Ossoli. ... Amos Bronson Alcott (November 29, 1799–March 4, 1888) was an American teacher and writer. ... Orestes Augustus Brownson (1803-1876) was a New England intellectual and activist, preacher and labor organizer. ... William Ellery Channing (June 10, 1818-December 23, 1901) was a Transcendentalist poet, nephew of the Unitarian preacher Dr. William Ellery Channing. ... Frederick Henry Hedge (1805-August 21, 1890) was a New England Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist. ... Theodore Parker (August 24, 1810 - May 10, 1860) was a reforming American minister of the Unitarian church, and a Transcendentalist. ... George Palmer Putnam (1814 - 1872) was a U.S. publisher. ... Sophia Amelia Peabody (1809–1871) was a painter and illustrator born in Salem, Massachusetts. ... Nathaniel Hawthorne (born Nathaniel Hathorne; July 4, 1804 - May 19, 1864) was a 19th century American novelist and short story writer. ... Brook Farm, a transcendentalist Utopian experiment, was put into practice by transcendentalist former Unitarian minister George Ripley at a farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, at that time nine miles from Boston. ... Left panel (The Earthly Paradise, Garden of Eden), from Hieronymus Boschs The Garden of Earthly Delights. ... A Commune is a kind of intentional community where most resources are shared and there is little or no personal property. ...

Contents

History

The publication of Emerson's 1836 essay Nature is usually taken to be the watershed moment at which Transcendentalism became a major cultural movement. Emerson wrote in his essay "The American Scholar": "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds ... A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men." Emerson closed the essay by calling for a revolution in human consciousness to emerge from the new idealist philosophy: Nature is a short book by Ralph Waldo Emerson published anonymously in 1836. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson The American Scholar was a speech given by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1837 to the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ... This is a disambiguation page for the term atman (or atma). ...

So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, — What is truth? and of the affections, — What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. ... Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.

In the same year, Transcendentalism became a coherent movement with the founding of the Transcendental Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 8, 1836, by prominent New England intellectuals including George Putnam, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Frederick Henry Hedge. From 1840, the group published frequently in their journal The Dial, along with other venues. The Transcendental Club was the group of New England intellectuals of the early-to-mid-19th century which gave rise to Transcendentalism. ...   Settled: 1630 â€“ Incorporated: 1636 Zip Code(s): 02138, 02139, 02140, 02141, 02142 â€“ Area Code(s): 617 / 857 Official website: http://www. ... September 8 is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years). ... Year 1836 (MDCCCXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a leap year starting on Wednesday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... George Palmer Putnam (1814 - 1872) was a U.S. publisher. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. ... Frederick Henry Hedge (1805-August 21, 1890) was a New England Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist. ... The January 1920 issue of the Dial. ...


The practical aims of the Transcendentalists were varied; some among the group linked it with utopian social change (and, in the case of Brownson, it joined explicitly with early socialism), while others found it an exclusively individual and idealist project. Emerson believed the latter. In his 1842 lecture "The Transcendentalist", Emerson suggested that the goal of a purely Transcendental outlook on life was impossible to attain in practice: Orestes Augustus Brownson (1803-1876) was a New England intellectual and activist, preacher and labor organizer. ... Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community. ... Ralph Waldo Emersons The Transcendentalist is one of the essays he wrote while establishing the doctrine of American Transcendentalism. ...

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. We have had many harbingers and forerunners; but of a purely spiritual life, history has afforded no example. I mean, we have yet no man who has leaned entirely on his character, and eaten angels' food; who, trusting to his sentiments, found life made of miracles; who, working for universal aims, found himself fed, he knew not how; clothed, sheltered, and weaponed, he knew not how, and yet it was done by his own hands. ... Shall we say, then, that Transcendentalism is the Saturnalia or excess of Faith; the presentiment of a faith proper to man in his integrity, excessive only when his imperfect obedience hinders the satisfaction of his wish. Saturnalia is the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn, which took place on 17 December. ...

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a novel, The Blithedale Romance, satirizing the movement, and based it on his experiences at Brook Farm, a short-lived utopian community founded on Transcendental principles. Nathaniel Hawthorne (born Nathaniel Hathorne; July 4, 1804 - May 19, 1864) was a 19th century American novelist and short story writer. ... The Blithedale Romance (1852) was the third of the major romances of Nathaniel Hawthorne. ... Brook Farm, a transcendentalist Utopian experiment, was put into practice by transcendentalist former Unitarian minister George Ripley at a farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, at that time nine miles from Boston. ...


Origins

Transcendentalism was rooted in the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant (and of German Idealism more generally), which the New England intellectuals of the early 19th century embraced as an alternative to the Lockean "sensualism" of their fathers and of the Unitarian church, finding this alternative in Vedic thought, German idealism, and English Romanticism. In philosophy, transcendental/transcendence, has three different but related primary meanings, all of them derived from the words literal meaning (from Latin), of climbing or going beyond: one that originated in Ancient philosophy, one in Medieval philosophy and one in modern philosophy. ... Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). ... German Idealism was a philosophical movement in Germany in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. ... This article is about John Locke, the English philosopher. ... Sensualism — a philosophic current in theory of knowledge, according to which sensations and perception are basic and most important form of true cognition. ... It has been suggested that Unitarian Christianity be merged into this article or section. ... The Vedas are part of the Hindu Shruti; these religious scriptures form part of the core of the Brahminical and Vedic traditions within Hinduism and are the inspirational, metaphysical and mythological foundation for later Vedanta, Yoga, Tantra and even Bhakti forms of Hinduism. ... German Idealism was a philosophical movement in Germany in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. ... Wanderer above the sea of fog by Caspar David Friedrich Romanticism is an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in 18th century Western Europe during the industrial revolution. ...


The Transcendentalists desired to ground their religion and philosophy in transcendental principles: principles not based on, or falsifiable by, sensuous experience, but deriving from the inner, spiritual or mental essence of the human. Immanuel Kant had called "all knowledge transcendental which is concerned not with objects but with our mode of knowing objects." The Transcendentalists were largely unacquainted with German philosophy in the original, and relied primarily on the writings of Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Victor Cousin, Germaine de Staël, and other English and French commentators for their knowledge of it. In contrast, they were intimately familiar with the English Romantics, and the Transcendental movement may be partially described as a slightly later, American outgrowth of Romanticism. Another major influence was the mystical spiritualism of Emanuel Swedenborg. German philosophy, here taken to mean philosophy in German language, has been extremely diverse, and central to both the analytic and continental traditions in philosophy for centuries, from Leibniz through Kant and Hegel to contemporary philosophers such as Jürgen Habermas. ... The most familiar view of Carlyle is as the bearded sage with a penetrating gaze. ... Samuel Taylor Coleridge (October 21, 1772 – July 25, 1834) (pronounced ) was an English poet, critic, and philosopher who was, along with his friend William Wordsworth, one of the founders of the Romantic Movement in England and one of the Lake Poets. ... Victor Cousin. ... Madame de Staël Anne Louise Germaine de Staël (April 22, 1766 – July 14, 1817) was a French author who determined literary tastes of Europe at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. ... Wanderer above the sea of fog by Caspar David Friedrich Romanticism is an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in 18th century Western Europe during the industrial revolution. ... Emanuel Swedenborg, 75, holding the manuscript of Apocalypsis Revelata (1766). ...


Thoreau in Walden spoke of the debt to the Vedic thought directly, as did other members of the movement:

In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma, and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water-jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges. Bhagavad Gīta भगवद्गीता, composed ca the fifth - second centuries BC, is part of the epic poem Mahabharata, located in the Bhisma_Parva chapters 23–40. ... A Brahmin (anglicised from the Sanskrit adjective belonging to Brahma, also known as Brahman belonging to ; Vipra, Dvija twice-born, Dvijottama best of the twice born or earth-god) is considered to be the highest class (varna) in the Indian caste system of Hindu society [1] [2], although this status... Brahma (IAST: Brahmā) (Devanagari ब्रह्मा, pronounced as ) is the Hindu god (deva) of creation, and one of the Hindu Trinity - Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. ... Vishnu (IAST , Devanagari ), (honorific: Sri Vishnu) also known as Narayana is the Supreme Being or Ultimate Reality for Vaishnavas and a manifestation of Brahman in the Advaita or Smarta traditions. ... Indra (Sanskrit: इन्द्र or इंद्र, indra) is the god of weather and war, and lord of Svargaloka in Hinduism. ...

Other meanings of transcendentalism

Transcendental idealism

The term transcendentalism sometimes serves as shorthand for "transcendental idealism," which is the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and later Kantian and German Idealist philosophers. Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. ... Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). ...


Transcendental theology

Further information: Transcendence (religion)

Another alternative meaning for transcendentalism is the classical philosophy that God transcends the manifest world. As John Scotus Erigena put it to Frankish king Charles the Bald in the year 840 A.D., "We do not know what God is. God himself doesn't know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being." In religion, transcendence is a condition or state of being that surpasses, and is independent of, physical existence. ... J. Scotus Eriugena commemorated on a Irish banknote, issued 1976-1993 Johannes Scotus Eriugena (ca. ... For other uses, see Franks (disambiguation). ... Charles the Bald - Detail from a painting in the First Bible of Charles the Bald, painted ca. ...


See also

The Transcendental Generation is the name given by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book Generations for that generation of Americans born from 1792 to 1821. ... Compensation is an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson. ... Ralph Waldo Emersons The Transcendentalist is one of the essays he wrote while establishing the doctrine of American Transcendentalism. ... Dark romanticism, also referred to as anti-transcendentalism is a label applied to some gothic fiction. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Anti-war activist Midge Potts is arrested for civil disobedience on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States on February 9, 2005. ... Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862; born David Henry Thoreau[1]) was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, and philosopher who is best known for Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
American Transcendentalism Web (217 words)
Sermon on "Transcendentalism for the New Age." Jane Rosecrans.
The Transcendental Legacy in Political and Social Reform
This interlinked hypertext was first created in Spring 1999 by Virginia Commonwealth University graduate students studying in Professor Ann Woodlief's class in Studies in American Transcendentalism.
Rise of Transcendentalism (1943 words)
Transcendentalism cannot be properly understood outside the context of Unitarianism, the dominant religion in Boston during the early nineteenth century.
Transcendentalism was not a purely native movement, however.
For Transcendentalism was entering theological realms which struck the elder generation of Unitarians as heretical apostasy or, at the very least, as ingratitude.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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