Presentation on theme: "In order to form a perfect human Transcendentalism."— Presentation transcript:
In order to form a perfect human Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism is socio-cultural movement that is an offshoot from Romanticism. It is as much an economic or political movement as it is literary. Most of the persons of note, were social and cultural activists. This philosophy saw its start in the rural areas of New England but its influence spread throughout the world. It saw the perfectibility of man but realized the dehumanizing aspects of a modern, industrialized society Simplify, Simplify, Simplify was its main theme
Tenets of Transcendentalism The simplicity of nature is a pathway to the Divine Soul and thus Truth Commercialism, materialism and industrialism are dehumanizing and corrupting Man is perfectible—life is a spiritual journey Truths are attained through intuition and experience Idealistic and optimistic, its leaders sought improvement through social change: abolition of slavery, improvements in public education, equal rights for all, including the poor, indigent, mentally ill.
Lyceum Movement Sought the equality of man through education and self reliance. Other leaders include Horace Mann, Dorothea Dix, William Lloyd Garrison, and others who championed the rights of the downtrodden, and forgotten. They were also staunch abolitionists and pacifists. They often assisted with the underground railroad and anti-war protests.
Emerson and Thoreau Ralph Waldo Emerson was the leading speaker and thinker in the transcendentalist movement. He was the leader of the Lyceum Movement. Henry David Thoreau was a follower of Emerson but chose to live the life of a transcendentalist. Removed himself from society and showed that living the simple life was possible. He was a strict believer in Human Rights and that man had the right to seek his own path in the world without the constrains of government. His time at Walden Pond was an experiment in simple living.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature Nature was a ground breaking and highly influential treatise on Man’s relationship with the natural world. Emerson saw Nature as a representation of God’s intentions on Earth. Nature is benign, spiritual, inspirational, and rejuvenating. Man has the ability to see the original purpose through interaction with the raw, natural world. Although Emerson was primarily a speaker and leader of the Lyceum movement, his commune with nature inspired his great works of poetry.
Self Reliance Much like Thoreau’s view of poverty (as in only by comparison), Emerson believed the self-made, self-reliant American is a gift of God. “Modern” or Contemporary society gave (gives) man too many ways in which to become reliant on and indebted to other people or things, namely money. The Self-Reliant man follows God’s virtues innately and proudly. Truth, Honestly, Reliability, Independence, Frugality (similar virtues to Ben Franklin) all help man and thus society move forward. Education is also an important part of being free. Man exists regardless of others and therefore should not rely on others for his existence. Simplicity of mind, body and spirit.
Walden Walden Pond was a small lake on the outskirts of Concord, Mass. Henry David Thoreau sought to prove to his technological contemporary world that one could live simply and happily without most of the “modern” advancements. He spent over two years in his hand made home, growing his own food, and making general observations about life. His journals eventually became the stuff of one of the most inspirational works of the 19 th Century and was the spring board for more modern environmentalism and conservation efforts. He commented on the evils of technology, commercialism, and industrialism as dehumanizing and demanded a simpler, more personal world.
Civil Disobedience He spent one night in jail during his stay at Walden for not paying a poll tax. His essay Civil Disobedience inspired generations of civil rights activism and spawned the non-violent protests of the Indian independence movement and Mohandas Gandhi and the American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s. From his cell he saw how the people and communities had become slaves to government and not a “government by the people, for the people”. His protest actually was against was he saw as government funding of the unjust Mexican-American War and industry-backed Southern slavery.
Henry David Thoreau Much of Thoreau’s literary career was based on travelogues and nature journals. He held many occupations but was never satisfied with one career. He was a teacher and ran a school with his brother. He spent sporadic times working as a surveyor and in his family’s pencil factory, and was a handy man for his mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. He died in 1862 at the age of 44 With the impending Civil War, Thoreau’s death and an aging and ailing Emerson the optimistic leaders of Transcendental age came to a slow end.
Walt Whitman Walt Whitman was a young man inspired by the Transcendentalists. His writings and poetry reflected the ideals of the Romantic/Transcendental movement but also acknowledged man’s ever changing social and economic environment. His longevity (1819-1892) allowed him a unique literary bridge between the earliest Romantics, the Transcendentalism of the middle century and the post-war Realists. Leaves of Grass, his magnum opus, was first personally published in 1850 and underwent several additions and editions throughout the remainder of his life. This work celebrated his life and the life of the many, varied lives of a diverse America.