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Transcendentalism. Why it happened.... 1. In REBELLION against the rigid way of life of Puritanism.

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Presentation on theme: "Transcendentalism. Why it happened.... 1. In REBELLION against the rigid way of life of Puritanism."— Presentation transcript:

1 Transcendentalism

2 Why it happened In REBELLION against the rigid way of life of Puritanism

3 Why it happened Change in LIFESTYLE: development of science and industry- introduction of machine to New England farm

4 Why it happened A REJECTION of Realism and Rationalism (the idea that all knowledge comes from scientific fact and reason, not from feelings and emotions). Chemistry Teacher: Quite an unusual class you had today... Keating:...funny, I never pegged you as a cynic. Chemistry Teacher: I'm not a cynic. A realist.

5 Why it happened The INFLUENCE of the American Revolutionary War

6 Why it happened INFLUENCE of other cultures and religions: Hinduism and Buddhism European ideas/Romantic Movement: o John Locke- when we are born our minds are a blank slate (a "tabula rasa") and we fill them with knowledge from ourselves, not from facts from science o Jean-Jacques Rousseau- men are born good, but man-made institutions make them wicked

7 Where it happened Began in New England around Concord, Massachusetts. Ralph Waldo Emerson thought the Unitarian Church's doctrine and laws were becoming too conservative

8 Major Beliefs... the importance of the individual Emotion Imagination Intuition= "gut feeling" Still a belief in God, the afterlife, etc. However, the emphasis should be on the here and now, not the past or the future o NOT a rejection of God, but a preference to explain the world in terms of the individual o DENIAL of Original Sin

9 Major Beliefs... The human soul is part of The Oversoul (God/universal spirit) to which it and other souls return at death o Therefore, every individual is to be respected because everyone has a portion of that Oversoul (God) within them o we have to try to strike a balance between being connected to others while still remaining unique and separate. o there is a relationship between all things

10 Major Beliefs we must be self-reliant All knowledge begins with self-knowledge we are evolving thinkers- it is okay to change our minds love of nature

11 "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." -Henry David Thoreau

12 What it is... Transcendentalism is... A Literary Movement (books and essays) A Philosophy A state of mind a form of spirituality

13 What it is.... Transcendentalism: 'Transcend'= to rise above, go beyond the limits of trans= across (transfer, transport) scend= climb (descend, ascend) Transcendentalists wanted to 'rise above' logical reason to find truth

14 What it is... Transcendentalism- A philosophy of individualism, aimed at the creation of the new American, the self-reliant man, complete and independent.

15 What does “transcendentalism” mean? There is an ideal spiritual state which “transcends” the physical and empirical. A loose collection of eclectic ideas about literature, philosophy, religion, social reform, and the general state of American culture. Transcendentalism had different meanings for each person involved in the movement.

16 Where did it come from? Ralph Waldo Emerson gave German philosopher Immanuel Kant credit for popularizing the term “transcendentalism.” It began as a reform movement in the Unitarian church. It is not a religion—more accurately, it is a philosophy or form of spirituality. It centered around Boston and Concord, MA. in the mid-1800’s. Emerson first expressed his philosophy of transcendentalism in his essay Nature.

17 What did Transcendentalists believe? The intuitive faculty, instead of the rational or sensical, became the means for a conscious union of the individual psyche (known in Sanskrit as Atman) with the world psyche also known as the Oversoul, life-force, prime mover and G-d (known in Sanskrit as Brahma).

18 Basic Premise #1 An individual is the spiritual center of the universe, and in an individual can be found the clue to nature, history and, ultimately, the cosmos itself. It is not a rejection of the existence of G-d, but a preference to explain an individual and the world in terms of an individual.

19 Basic Premise #2 The structure of the universe literally duplicates the structure of the individual self—all knowledge, therefore, begins with self- knowledge. This is similar to Aristotle's dictum "know thyself."

20 Basic Premise #3 Transcendentalists accepted the concept of nature as a living mystery, full of signs; nature is symbolic.

21 Basic Premise #4 The belief that individual virtue and happiness depend upon self- realization—this depends upon the reconciliation of two universal psychological tendencies: 1.The desire to embrace the whole world— to know and become one with the world. 2.The desire to withdraw, remain unique and separate—an egotistical existence.

22 Who were the Transcendentalists? Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau Amos Bronson Alcott Margaret Fuller Ellery Channing

23 Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian minister Poet and essayist Founded the Transcendental Club Popular lecturer Banned from Harvard for 40 years following his Divinity School address Supporter of abolitionism

24 Henry David Thoreau Schoolteacher, essayist, poet Most famous for Walden and Civil Disobedience Influenced environmental movement Supporter of abolitionism

25 Amos Bronson Alcott Teacher and writer Founder of Temple School and Fruitlands Introduced art, music, P.E., nature study, and field trips; banished corporal punishment Father of novelist Louisa May Alcott

26 Margaret Fuller Journalist, critic, women’s rights activist First editor of The Dial, a transcendental journal First female journalist to work on a major newspaper—The New York Tribune Taught at Alcott’s Temple School

27 Ellery Channing Poet and especially close friend of Thoreau Published the first biography of Thoreau in 1873—Thoreau, The Poet-Naturalist

28 Resources American Transcendental Web: American Transcendentalism: PAL: Chapter Four


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