Poe's Fall of The House of Usher Essay: Beyond Empiricism and Transcendentalism

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Beyond Empiricism and Transcendentalism in House of Usher

When Edgar Allan Poe wrote "The Fall of the House of Usher," two factors greatly influenced his writing. A first influence was John Locke's idea of Empiricism, which was the idea that all knowledge was gained by experiences, exclusively through the senses. A second vital influence was Transcendentalism, which was a reaction to Empiricism. While John Locke believed that reality or truth was constituted by the material world and by the senses, Transcendentalists believed that reality and truth exist within the spiritual or ideal world. They believed that the external world was dependent solely on the conscious. Beverly Voloshin suggests that "Poe presents transcendental
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The idea of the senses controlling all that we are able to learn and understand became the backbone for the Romantic writers of the 19th century. Certainly, Edgar Allan Poe was part of the intellectual elite who considered Locke's theory of Empiricism and the idea of the senses controlling all knowledge when contemplating the creation of his own works.

Indeed, the introduction John Locke's Empiricism changed the way in which man viewed himself, as well as the very ideas behind how knowledge was acquired. As Bevery Voloshin states, these beliefs were obvious, "especially in Locke's denial of innate ideas and his conception that all knowledge is built up from atomistic sensations through the mind's power of reflection" (18). Innate ideas were introduced by Descartes' earlier in the 16th century, and Locke was quick to disagree with the Cartesian doctrine of innate ideas - "the doctrine that man is born with clear and undeniably true ideas" (Sahakian 21). Locke thought that only through reflection could knowledge be gained, and that human beings were not equipped with certain inborn knowledge. "Locke felt that for people to be receptive toward his empiricism, it was necessary to eliminate the stronghold of innate ideas" (Sahakian 36). Only through our experiences (which are driven by our senses) and

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