American Transcendentalism & Ralph Waldo Emerson+Henry David Thoreau
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1 American Transcendentalism & Ralph Waldo Emerson+Henry David Thoreau
2 What is Transcendentalism Idealistic philosophy, spiritual position,and literary movement that advocates reliance on romantic intuition and moral human conscienceBelief that humans can intuitively transcend the limits of the senses and of logic to a plane of “high truths”Value spirituality,divinity of humanity, nature, intellectual pursuit, social justiceRoughly 1830s-1850s
3 Where did it come from?Ralph Waldo Emerson gave German philosopher Immanuel Kant credit of popularizing the term “transcendentalism”It began as a reform movement in the Unitarian churchIt is a philosophy 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.
4 Beliefs of Transcendentalism The intuitive faculty, instead of the rational or sensical, became the means for a conscious union of the individual psyche with the world psyche also known as the Oversoul, life-force, prime mover and G-d (known in Sanskrit as Brahma)
5 Transcendentalism as Spiritual Revival Ironic refiguring of Puritanism without the theological dogmaTranscendentalists lonely explorers (pilgrims)outside society and conventionTrying to form new society based on metaphysical awarenessTrying to purify society by purifying hearts and mindsNature is spiritual manifesto.
6 Major Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson——father of American transcendentalismHenry David Thoreau——famous practical transcendentalist
7 Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882 Unitarian minister Poet and essayist Founded the Transcendental ClubPopular lecturerBanned from Harvard for 40 years following his Divinity School addressSupporter of abolitionism
8 Emerson’s Major WorksNature 1836——Emerson’s most original and significant work, offering the essence of his philosophy of American TranscendentalismThe American Scholar 1837——America;s literary declaration of independenceThe Divinity School Address 1838Essays: First Series 1841Essays: Second Series 1844Contain some of his mostProfound statements oftranscendentalism
9 Emerson’s Major Works 6) Representative Men 1850 7) English Traits 18568) The Conduct of Life 18609) May-Day and Other Pieces 1867
10 NatureMost of his major ideas: the need for a new national vision, the use of personalExperience, the notion of the cosmic Over-Soul, and the doctrine of compensation——are suggested in his first publication: Nature (1836)
11 Emerson’s InfluenceA great prose-poet, Emerson influenced a long line of American poets, including Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson,Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, and Robert Frost.He is also credited with influencing the philosophies of John Dewey, George Santayana, Friedrich Nietzsche, and William James.
12 Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 Schoolteacher, essayist,poet Most famous for Walden and Civil DisobedienceInfluenced environmental movementSupporter of abolitionism
13 Thoreau’s Major Literary Work Civil DisobedienceA Plea for John BrownA Week on the Concord and Merrimack RiversA record of a canoe excursion, giving observantComments on nature, man, society and literature
14 Thoreau’s Major Literary Works Walden——regard as a classic American book that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty as models for just social and cultural conditions.A reproduction of Thoreau’s cabin with a statue of Thoreau.
15 Walden 1854Moved to a cabin on Walden Pond, on July, 1845; lived there for 2 yearsIt isA collection of nature essaysA book about man, what he is,And what he should be and must BeFull of ideas expressed to persuadeHis neighbors out of their complacency
16 Thoreau’s Point of View Didn’t like the way a materialistic America was developing and was strongly outspoken on this pointHated the human injustice as represented by the slavery systemSaw nature as a genuine restorative, healthy influence on man’s spiritual well-being
17 Thoreau’s Point of View Had faith in the inner virtue and inward, spiritual grace of manWas very critical of modern civilizationHe was impatient with his fellowmenWho did not want to spend so little time on self-improvementHad trust in the future