Presentation on theme: "“ It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, always do what you are afraid to do.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson American Transcendentalism."— Presentation transcript:
“ It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, always do what you are afraid to do.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson American Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism A literary movement in the 1830’s that established a clear “American voice”. Emerson first expressed his philosophy in his essay “Nature”. A belief in a higher reality than that achieved by human reasoning. Suggests that every individual is capable of discovering this higher truth through intuition.
Transcendentalism, cont. Unlike Puritans, they saw humans and nature as possessing an innate goodness. “In the faces of men and women, I see God” -Walt Whitman Opposed strict ritualism and the dogma (set of principles) of established religion.
The Tenets of Transcendentalism: Believed in living close to nature/importance of nature. Nature is the source of truth and inspiration. Taught the dignity of manual labor Advocated self-trust/ confidence Valued individuality/non-conformity/free thought Advocated self-reliance/ simplicity
The First Transcendentalist: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Individuality, independence, and appreciation for the wonders of nature are a few of the principles that Emerson helped to ingrain into America’s identity. Was a minister until his first wife died. At the time, the culture was down- playing the importance of the individual. Industrial Revolution showed that machines could replace people. Individuals did not matter.
Emerson biography, cont. Emerson, however, believed that the human mind was the most important force in the universe. Resigned from the church. Traveled to Europe to visit with some of the great philosophers of the day. Came home, settled in Concord, Massachusetts, remarried, and began a lifelong career of writing.
Emerson: “Self-Reliance” In this essay, Emerson encourages readers to avoid blindly conforming to the ideas and behavior dictated by society or peers. Instead, he urges people to think and act independently. “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide…” “…to be great is to be misunderstood”
Emerson: Nature In this excerpt from his book Nature, Emerson expresses his belief that the meaning of existence can be found by exploring the natural world. He describes how, through his exploration of nature, he has discovered that he is spiritually connected with the universe, with God, and with every living thing.
Henry David Thoreau, biography (1817-1862) Even as a child, neighbors considered him eccentric. Rarely followed the rules. Independent and strong-willed; didn’t care about his education. Eventually attended Harvard; students were supposed to wear black coats, but Thoreau wore a green one.
HDT biography, cont. In 1841, Moved in with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Lived there for two years, performing odd jobs to pay for room and board. Became fascinated with Emerson’s Transcendental beliefs. They became close friends. Thoreau devoted the rest of his life to exploring and writing about the spiritual relationship between humanity and nature and supporting his political and social beliefs.
On Walden Pond From 1845-1847, he lived alone in a cabin he built himself at Walden Pond outside of Concord. His experiences during this period provided him with the material for his masterwork, Walden. A unique blend of natural observation, social criticism, and philosophical insight, Walden is now generally regarded as the supreme work of Transcendentalist literature.