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Transcript
TRANSCENDENTALISM
“Transcend” to a higher spiritual / intellectual
plane
 Transcend through intuition – not reason
 Transcend trough living in harmony with nature
 Everyone can transcend
 After transcending (like Zen) want to do what is
right / moral – better society (optimism)

OUTGROWTH OF ROMANTICISM
 Love
of nature
 Idealism (utopian society)
 Individual focus
“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras
was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and
Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton,
and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To
be great is to be misunderstood.”
Emerson – From Self-Reliance
PURITAN OUTGROWTH
 Utopian
vision
Faith / moral enthusiasm (reform society
 Attitude

 Not

a well defined philosophy
Not everyone had all of the characteristics)
DARKER VISIONS (HAWTHORNE AND MELVILLE)




Saw the universe as confusing / chaotic
Nature = ambiguous Life = mysterious (includes evil and suffering)
Melville emphasized disappointment (disillusionment) /
illusion of life – Hindu view – life is an illusion (dream of the
gods)


Hinduism
Reality (Brahman) is One or Absolute, changeless, perfect
and eternal. The ordinary human world of many separate
and discrete (finite) things (which our mind represents by
our senses) is an illusion. Through meditation and purity of
mind, one can experience their true Self, which is Brahman,
God, the One infinite eternal thing
THE AMERICAN ROMANCE
 Hawthorne
– distinction between novel and
romance
 Romance
need not be realistic
 It may be marvelous, improbable, or eccentric
 True to the human heart (condition) – not a portrait of
reality
ADDITIONAL MAJOR IDEAS
 Direct
relationship with God and with nature (try to
convert external symbols of nature into spiritual
facts)
 The “Oversoul” – cosmic unity amongst God,
nature, and man (divinity is self-contained)
 Like the Hindu - Brahman
 Man
is innately good (reflection of a just God)
Social Context
 Reform
(idealistic reshaping of society)
antislavery
 labor (working conditions)
 women’s rights (feminist movement)
 education (public education for all)

“How does it become a man to behave toward this American
government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace
be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that
political organization as my government which is the slave’s
government also.”
Thoreau
—Civil Disobedience (1848)
Religious Context
 Unitarianism
(God is one being)
 Spirituality over “religion” (not ritual nor literal interpretation of
the Bible)
 Concealed reality / mystery beyond science or human
comprehension
 Studied the spirituality rather than “science” of nature
 “I
become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the
currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part
or particle of God. . . . Nothing divine dies. All good is eternally
reproductive. The beauty of nature reforms itself in the mind,
and not for barren contemplation, but for new creation.”
----- Emerson from Nature -----
Philosophical Context
 John
Locke (England 1632-1704)
 Empiricism – knowledge by sensory experience



human mind void of conscience (sense of God) at birth
things must be experienced by senses to be intellectualized
Stressed reason and science (rationalism)
 Immanuel
Kant (Germany 1724-1804)

God
Morality

freedom




Innate Knowledge
immortality
These cannot be understood by reason (“intuitions of the mind”)
humans = moral and godly by nature
 Transcendentalists
agreed with Kant’s philosophy
 Mysticism through intuition