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American

Transcendentalism

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

Transcendentalism
Emerson first expressed his philosophy in
his essay Nature.
Transcendentalism was a group of new
ideas in literature, religion, culture, and
philosophy that emerged in New England
in the early-to mid-19th century.
Though the transcendental movement
was relatively short, its influence on the
American culture is vast

The First Transcendentalists

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Margaret Fuller
Henry David Thoreau
Bronson Alcott

Core Beliefs
1. Human senses are limited; they convey
knowledge of the physical world, but
deeper truths can be grasped only
through intuition (gut feeling).
2. The observation of nature shows the truth
about human beings.
3. God, nature, and humanity are united in a
shared universal soul, or Over-Soul.
4. No political or religious institution is as
powerful or important as the individual.

1. Human senses are limited; they


convey knowledge of the physical
world, but deeper truths can be
grasped only through intuition (gut
feeling).
Rather than love, than money, than
fame, give me truth.
Most of the luxuries and many of the
so-called comforts of life are not only
not indispensable, but positive
hindrances to the elevation of
mankind.

2. God, nature, and humanity are


united in a shared universal soul,
or Over-Soul.
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 dogma
of established religion.

3. No political or religious
institution is as powerful or
important as the individual.
There is a time in every mans education
when he arrives at the conviction that
envy is ignorance; that imitation in
suicide
SelfReliance-What I must do is
Emerson
all that concerns me,
not what people think
to be great is to be misunderstood

How deep the ruts of tradition and


conformity.

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 he hears, however
measured or far away.

4. The observation of nature


shows the truth about human
beings.
--Thoreau
Thoreau began essential living
Built a cabin on land owned to
Emerson in Concord, Mass. near
Walden Pond
Lived alone there
for two years studying
nature and seeking
truth within himself

I went into the woods


because I wished to live
deliberately, to front only
the essential facts of life and
see if I could not learn what
it has to teach, and not,
when I came to die, discover
that I had not lived.

Heaven is under
our feet as well
as over our
heads.

Still we live meanly like ants.


Our life is frittered away by detail.
Why should we live with such hurry and waste of
life?
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. I say, let your
affairs be as two or three and not a hundred or a
thousand.

Civil Disobedience-Thoreau
Thoreaus essay urging passive, nonviolent resistance to governmental
policies to which an individual is
morally opposed.
Influenced individuals such a Ghandi,
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Cesar
Chavez.

[If injustice] is of such a nature that it


requires you to be the agent of injustice to
another, then, I say, break the law. Let your
life be the friction to stop the machine.

Binder Tabs
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Notes
Research
EOCT and SAT Prep
Vocabulary and Homework
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