Transcendentalism Benefits

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The Benefits of Transcendentalism for the Individual and the Community Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the most influential leaders in the Transcendentalist movement that began in nineteenth century New England. Transcendentalism began as a new social ideal in which it was suggested that “men and women equally, have knowledge about themselves and the world around them that “transcends” or goes beyond what they can see, hear, taste, touch, or feel. This knowledge comes through intuition and imagination, not through logic or the senses” (ushistory.org). His beliefs were shared among the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and John Muir. Emerson’s most significant themes detailed in “Self-Reliance” included non-conformity, independent…show more content…
All of his beliefs were backed by valuable and well-established morals and ethics. Emerson said, “our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us.” Even in our more modern times, Emerson’s concerns of control and authority are still expressed by others. According to O’Neill, “the exercise of individual autonomy and the expression of individual thought, has never been weaker than it is today.” Emerson’s ideals would not only contribute beneficially to the individual alone, but also through each individual gradually create an effect on their surrounding communities. Emerson’s ideals rejected the conformist and encouraged independence to which he said, “Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.” In terms of…show more content…
Within “Self-Reliance,” Emerson says, “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right.” Bakewell substantiates Emerson’s convincing beliefs by saying, “Most of our institutions and conventions seem expressly devised to make men insincere, to crush out individuality, and reduce all to the same mould.” Emerson suggests that a point has been reached where institutions have convinced us to lose all individual thought and creativity. It has been suggested that “even individual instincts are restrained” (O’Neill) and that “all societies needlessly stifle creativity instead of encouraging it” (Caplan). Rejecting the common or socially “respected” institutions does not necessarily need to lead to social chaos. Most individuals have the capability and emotional skill set to lead a life responsibly while exhibiting the familiar characteristics of Emerson’s Transcendentalism, such as good morals and ethics. The idea of rejecting conformity only leads back to the idea of developing a strong, independent thought process. A liberated thought process can be entirely beneficial to the individual, and
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