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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

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.



  • “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.





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