Enlightenment, Transcendentalism, and Puritan Theology Essay

1840 Words Oct 23rd, 2006 8 Pages
Enlightenment, transcendentalism, and puritan theology: 3 philosophies that shaped 3 centuries in America. Since the time periods of each philosophy overlapped with the others, all 3 had similarities as well as differences. From these philosophies came different writers with different views, shaping American prose.
A major Enlightenment author was Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine wrote a piece called "The Age of Reason." In this piece he fully encompassed the ideologies of the Enlightenment. These included the belief in the perfectibility of a human being, universal benevolence, faith in natural goodness, and the sovereignty of reason. He talked about the flaws in religion and the idea that "his own mind is his own church." In his piece he
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In his piece titled "Civil Disobedience," Thoreau talks about the flaws in the American government. He stated that a government where "majority rules" is not one based on justice. He said that people should be men first, and subjects second. He explained that it is important for a person to live life with their conscience and serve the country with their conscience. In summary, he said that men should be true to themselves and government should recognize the individual as a higher and independent power. He explained that the government couldn't attack one's mind, only their body. In his other piece, titled "Walden," Thoreau stated that people needed to simplify their lives and enjoy the small things in life. He said that as one simplifies life, the laws of the universe also become more simple to that person, and one can become one with the world. He emphasized that people need to learn to love their life and accept it as it is.
The other transcendental author was Ralph Waldo Emerson. He wrote a piece called "Self-Reliance" in which he talks about the importance of being an individual, not conforming to the beliefs of others, and staying true to thy self. He said people should learn to appreciate the simple things in life and not value property and material goods as high as they do. He said that one should value the self and the soul most, for in the end staying true to one's self is all that matters. All of the ideas given by these two authors are
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