Transcendentalism
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Transcendentalism. Literature Unit 5. The Transcendentalists. They were a loose-knit group of writers, artists, and reformers Active for only about 10 years

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Transcendentalism

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Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism

Literature Unit 5


The transcendentalists

The Transcendentalists

  • They were a loose-knit group of writers, artists, and reformers

  • Active for only about 10 years

  • Their central tenet (main focus) was the belief that the individual was at the center of the universe, more powerful than any institution, whether political or religious.


The industrial revolution

The Industrial Revolution

  • Institutions downplayed the importance of the individual

  • Industrialism had shown that machines could actually replace people, that individuals did not matter


Inspired by strife

Inspired by Strife

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • Pastor in Boston during the early 1830’s

    • mourning the death of his young wife

    • Began to question his beliefs


Emerson

Emerson

  • Resigned from the church

  • Traveled to Europe to visit with some of the great philosophers of the day

  • Became a radical thinker

    • “the individual is the world”

    • “the Human Mind is so powerful it can unlock any mystery, from the intricacies of nature to the wonder of God”


The over soul

The “Over-Soul”

  • Emerson proposed that every soul and all of nature was part of the “Over-Soul”

  • It is a universal spirit to which all beings return after death

  • Every being is part of God’s mind


More emerson

More Emerson

  • Main principles used to develop transcendentalism included:

    • Individuality

    • Independence

    • An appreciation for the wonders of nature

  • One of the most quoted writers in American Literature

    • Every line is a sound bite

  • Worked as a pastor, writer, lecturer, and poet


What does it mean

What does it mean?

  • Transcendentalism is an intellectual movement founded by Emerson

  • 3 main beliefs

    • Human senses are limited; they convey knowledge of the physical world, but deeper truths can be grasped only through intuition.

    • The observation of nature illuminates the nature of human beings.

    • God, nature, and humanity are united in a shared universal soul, or Over-Soul


What is he talking about

What is he talking about?

  • “I am a transparent eyeball…the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God”

  • He is part of nature, part of every living thing, part of God.

  • He is a total hippie.


Transcendentalism

  • “Nature is a setting that fits equally well in a comic or mourning piece”

  • Nature reflects our moods

  • Our perceptions shape the world around us.


Transcendentalism

  • “Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

  • Rely on yourself.

  • “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members”

  • Conformists pressure non-conformists to give up their individuality and become like everyone else.


Transcendentalism

  • “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”

  • If we keep doing things the way we have always done them and never ask why, we lose an opportunity to think for ourselves.


Transcendentalism

  • “Speak what you think now is hard words, and speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, even though it contradicts everything you said today.”

  • Be willing to change your mind and admit it.


Transcendentalism

  • “It (society) loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”

  • Conformists prefer to do things the traditional way. They do not appreciate innovation.


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