Ralph waldo emerson
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Ralph Waldo Emerson. (1803-1882) Lived primarily in Massachusetts, with stints in SC, FL, and England AKA: Waldo, the Concord Sage, The Prophet of the American Religion (Harold Bloom)

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Ralph waldo emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1803-1882)

  • Lived primarily in Massachusetts, with stints in SC, FL, and England

  • AKA: Waldo, the Concord Sage, The Prophet of the American Religion (Harold Bloom)

    "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds...A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.“

    —from the 1837 Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Address


Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism

The term Transcendentalism was derived from the German philosopher Kant, who called "all knowledge transcendental which is concerned not with objects but with our mode of knowing objects.“

Arose within the context of Unitarianism, the dominant religion in Boston in the early 1800s. Their beliefs were based on:

  • stability, harmony, rational thought, progressive morality, classical learning, and other hallmarks of Enlightenment Christianity


Transcendentalism1

Transcendentalism

  • Though often thought of as the first notable American intellectual movement, Transcendentalism drew on a hodgepodge of international thought:

    • German philosophy (mysticism)

    • English & German Romanticism (imagistic language and themes)

    • Indian religious texts (intellectual and spiritual reciprocity)


Transcendentalism2

Transcendentalism

Emerson’s definition of a Transcendentalist (1841):

[The Transcendentalist] "believes in miracle, in the perpetual openness of the human mind to new influx of light and power; he believes in inspiration, and in ecstasy."


Transcendentalism3

Transcendentalism

A complex collection of beliefs:

  • the spark of divinity lies within man

  • everything in the world is a microcosm of existence

    • the individual soul is identical to the world soul, or Over-Soul, as Emerson called it.

  • by meditation, by communing with nature, through work and art, man could transcend his senses and attain an understanding of beauty and goodness and truth.


Transcendentalism4

Transcendentalism

This belief in the Inner Light led to an emphasis on the authority of the Self:

  • Walt Whitman's “I”

  • Emersonian doctrine of Self-Reliance

  • Thoreau's civil disobedience

  • Utopian communities at Brook Farm and Fruitlands.

    --source, PBS: I Hear America Singing


Nature introduction

Nature: Introduction


Anthropocentric

anthropocentric

1: considering human beings as the most significant entity of the universe

2: interpreting or regarding the world in terms of human values and experiences


Homework be emersonian

Homework: Be Emersonian

  • Leave your chamber and society, i.e. Go outside, alone, for at least an hour with NO electronics

    • No phone, headphones, laptop, camera, etc.

  • If you’re so inclined, take something old-fashioned with which to write notes (you know, like paper and a pen or pencil)

  • Immerse yourself in the world, alive to all your senses (you might want to wait to do this until after our writing workshop on Thursday)

  • Return and write a one-page treatise titled “Nature”

  • Somewhere within the paper, write a one-sentence maxim summarizing your philosophy

    Due to my Dropbox account by no later than midnight on Sunday, 2/2.

  • Read:

    Barry Lopez, “The Hot Spring”

    John W. Sexton, “Untitled, Haibun”

    **Because these are short, please read them at least twice. The first time, just let yourself experience them, maybe making brief notes or underlining something when it grabs you. The second time, read it with an eye to craft, to how the author achieved that effect.

  • Comment on the blog about one or both of these readings.


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