Transcendentalism Movement in the American History

Transcendentalism Movement in the American History

Document details
Category: Philosophy Essay
Subcategory: Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy
Words: 621
Pages: 1

Transcendentalism is the belief that matters of ultimate reality transcend, or go beyond, human experience. Transcendentalist thinking began during the American Renaissance with writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. However transcendental thinking did not begin with Thoreau and Emerson, but as Emerson called it, it is the very oldest of thoughts cast into the mold of these new times. Transcendentalism is based on the ancient philosophy of Idealism, which originates with Plato, a well-known philosopher from ancient Greece. Transcendentalism is an appropriate way of thinking for the period known as the American Renaissance because it puts one into a state of mind that is more conducive to creative writing and thought. Transcendentalism is a lot to swallow, especially for many people of that time. Herman Melville totally captured the common mans reaction to the whole concept when he said, what stuff all this is. It really takes a trained mind to grasp the concept of this spiritual world that Emerson describes. Many people do not believe in things that they cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell, so the extremely abstract concept of transcendentalism is totally out of their reach. However, for the people that can grasp this idea, it is very fulfilling. Transcendentalism makes people feel closer to God, in tune with nature, and gives a person a sense of self-worth. A major aspect of transcendental thinking is the individual defiance against the established orders of society. Henry David Thoreau conveys his feeling about this when he says That government is best which governs not at all. He believes that the ineptitude of the political leaders far out-weighs the amount of good that they could do. He also states that They who have been bred in the school of politics fail now and always to face the facts. In this, he means that politicians ignore reality when it does not serve their purpose. This is true for modern times...

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