Early American Transcendentalism

Better Essays
Early American transcendentalism has one of the greatest influences towards American society because it is not only a philosophy, but also a religion and physical progression. During the early nineteenth century, “the Transcendentalists set themselves against what they considered to be the materialism, conformity, and played-out liberalism of American religion and society…..”(Timko). If early American transcendentalists were living among civilians today, would present day civilians think the earlier activists were radical and psychotic? During this era, Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, “There are always two parties, the party of the Past and the party of the Future” (Timko). Early radical, transcendental activists believe that their approach of living is the gateway to America’s future and that they are leading by example, in hopes that other non-transcendentalists, intellectual societies will choose follow in their footsteps towards actual freedom.

During the nineteenth century, transcendentalism is as much of a philosophy as it is a religion and physical movement. The philosophical aspect of transcendentalism greatly influences early American societies because early societies were considered extremely intellectual, thus the thought of transcendentalism drew in many scholars. This aspect also assisted in the common man’s view on nature and surrounding life. John L. Locke, an English philosopher, refused the concept of intuitive ideas and declared, "There is nothing in the mind except what was first in the senses" (“Locke”). Opposing Locke’s thinking, American transcendentalists believe that an individual’s insight is more important and precious than familiarity and rationale (“Transcendentalism”). Emerson’s clear perception of “sel...

... middle of paper ...

... B. Perkins, Barbara Perkins, and Phillip Leininger. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. 631. Literature Resource Center. Web. 4 Nov. 2011.

Null, J. Wesley, and Amy Williamson. "Ralph Waldo Emerson's educational philosophy as a foundation for cooperative learning." American Education History Journal 35.1-2 (2008): 381+. Educators Reference Complete. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.

"The Seer of Walden." Henry David Thoreau. Richard J. Schneider. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987. 45-71. Twayne's United States Authors Series 497. Gale Virtual Reference Library.Web. 30 Oct. 2011.

Timko, Michael. "Henry David Thoreau and Transcendental reformation." World and I Jan. 2009. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 Oct. 2011.

"Transcendentalism." Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995. Literature Resource Center. Web. 30 Oct. 2011.
Get Access