A discussion of transcendentalists

Origins and Character What we now know as transcendentalism first arose among the liberal New England Congregationalists, who departed from orthodox Calvinism in two respects:

A discussion of transcendentalists

Emerson begins the essay with a sketch of the social fragmentation caused by work.

Fuller’s conversations

Equated with their occupational function, people become tool-like, with a corresponding social arrangement that reinforces this state of affairs. He views this deformation as inherent in the mercantile and manufacturing culture then emerging in the United States.

This social fragmentation not only inhibits human potential; in the extreme case of chattel slavery, its soul-destroying consequences are dehumanizing. In vivid contrast to this lapsed condition, Emerson posits a vital aboriginal state that is characterized by a kind of cosmic consciousness.

In this sense his examination of the American scholar is a reformation project, an idealized portrait of intellectual life rooted in the liberated humanity of the individual thinker. In practice this means an outright rejection of conformity and groupthink, including the uncritical acceptance of established creeds and dogmas.

A discussion of transcendentalists

For Emerson, systems and institutions promote mental timidity. They diminish the value and intensity of direct experience while undermining the self-reliant agency necessary for authentic engagement with the world.

Emerson then reviews the primary educative influences on what he calls Man Thinking: The essay treats nature as endless depth, a mirror image of the mind and the soul.

Christianity - Christianity and world religions: The global spread of Christianity through the activity of European and American churches in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries brought it into contact with all other existing religions. Meanwhile, since the beginning of the 19th century, the close connection between Christian world missions and political, economic, technical, and cultural. Margaret Fuller Biography. Margaret Fuller () was an American writer, a women’s rights activist, and was associated with the Transcendentalist movement. Fuller was an influential early feminist whose writings had a profound impact on later women suffrage campaigners, such as Susan B. Anthony. “She possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to. Transcendentalism was really a hodgepodge of ideas. The Transcendentalists were very well read and borrowed from Puritanism (the bits they liked), German Idealism, Eastern religions, and more.

The innate tendency of the mind, says Emerson, is to classify seemingly disparate natural phenomena into tendencies, facts, and laws.

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"The Second Great Awakening and the Transcendentalists" by Barry Hankins is a short overview of these two 19th century movements.

Essay Questions

General books on American History don't tell you enough to understand the movements, but you don't want to get overwhelmed with religious philosophy. Transcendentalism was really a hodgepodge of ideas.

The Transcendentalists were very well read and borrowed from Puritanism (the bits they liked), German Idealism, Eastern religions, and more.

The role of conversation in the Transcendentalists’ pursuit of self-culture cannot be overstated. They would have readily agreed with the words of French essayist Michel de Montaigne who wrote, “In my opinion the most profitable and most natural exercise of our mind is conversation. Transcendentalism was a regional movement, located mostly in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts.

Forming conversation circles

Research the history of New England at the time the transcendentalists were writing. Explain the ways in which transcendentalists reflect New England culture of the time.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The American Scholar calls for cultural and intellectual independence and combines a rejection of industrialization with a nuanced diagnosis of modern alienation. The essay.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - Biography and Works. Search Texts, Read Online. Discuss.