Transcendentalism, a powerful intellectual and philosophical movement founded by Ralph Waldo Emerson in the early nineteenth century, was guided by the principle that individuals are inherently good and function at their best when they are independent and self-reliant. Striving to produce a philosophy that would serve a new nation, transcendentalists believed that religious institutions and political parties would eventually corrupt the natural pure goodness of man. Transcendentalist ideology further asserts that by conforming to the standards set by society, man would not only lose the ability to follow his own instincts, but also become incapable of freely expressing himself. In his essay Self Reliance, Emerson writes, “Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something, which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for” (Emerson). Other writers and intellectuals such as Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson have adopted Emerson’s views on individuality and have expressed these ideals through their work. The spirit of individuality and self-reliance, key principles of Transcendentalism, are noted in Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” and Emily Dickinson’s poem “Nature (790).” Through their literary work, Douglass, Whitman, and Dickinson share
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil” -Ralph Waldo Emerson in Self Reliance. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a transcendentalist. Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that originated in the 19th century and was primarily influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalists’ main beliefs are: self-reliance is essential to one’s life, nature is divine, every person should have an optimistic outlook, and humanity needs to adhere to their personal morals and beliefs. In today’s world we still see a multitude of the beliefs of transcendentalism.
An influential literary movement in the nineteenth century, transcendentalism placed an emphasis on the wonder of nature and its deep connection to the divine. As the two most prominent figures in the transcendentalist movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau whole-heartedly embraced these principles. In their essays “Self-Reliance” and “Civil Disobedience”, Emerson and Thoreau, respectively, argue for individuality and personal expression in different manners. In “Self-Reliance”, Emerson calls for individuals to speak their minds and resist societal conformity, while in “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau urged Americans to publicly state their opinions in order to improve their own government.
According to the New York Times, teenagers listen to an average of 2.5 hours of music in a singular day. The messages coming through in each song may vary between drug/alcohol reference or transcendentalism. No matter where there is music, there is a lesson to be learned through ideas that Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau created. Though transcendentalism is a relatively foreign word to most, it can be defined by using five i's: individualism, inspiration, intuition, idealism and imagination which are displayed on all platforms of music today. The different music genres may vary between music from the late 1990's and children's movies today.
In today’s society, it appears that every week the general public is raving about a new app that was released or some newly created piece of technology. Week in and week out magazines and news sources highlight the newest inventions and and must-have items, encouraging the public to rush for the stores to acquire the new big thing. While such a concept is commonplace in today’s society, there was a time when this idea of materialism was a rarity, and, to a certain extent, frowned upon. American Transcendentalism was a religious and philosophical movement during the 1820s and ‘30s, that emphasized the importance and purity of the individual, and argued that society and its institutions corrupted the purity of every individual. Transcendentalism
“Transcendentalism […] has primarily much the position of the sun […] We are conscious of it as of a kind of splendid confusion […] But the circle of the moon is as clear and unmistakable, as recurrent and inevitable, as the circle of Euclid on a blackboard” (Chesterton, 24). These words encapsulate the driving rationale of the anti-transcendentalist argument – that although individuals seek transcendentalism, they can never truly realize it, or, to compare with the sun, see it. Rather, they inevitably place attention on the “moon,” the perspicuous reflection of transcendentalism – that is, individualism – and neglect the responsibilities of society. Emerson institutes the philosophy of transcendentalism in his essay, Nature, teaching that divinity pervades all nature and humanity. Although transcendentalists would offer that man can only better his spiritual life by embracing individualism, pursuing the ideal, and being one with nature, the ability and appeal of transcendentalism to advance enlightenment upon the soul of the individual rests on the false suppositions that feckless man can achieve perfection and that nature embodies God, thus causing transcendentalism to conversely detriment the spiritual life of the individual, isolating him, prescribing his rebellion, and invigorating his selfish pursuits, simply because he confides his soul in creation instead of the Creator (Tocqueville, 482).
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." Transcendentalist believed in being independent and self-reliant as well as appreciating nature. Transcendentalism occurred in the 1800s in the United States. Transcendentalist believed that one should not rely on others and should rely solely on themselves. They also believe that nature was important in the world and should not be taken for granted. Artist from 2000 up to now share these common beliefs with transcendentalist. One of these artist is Trisha Yearwood who had the song Real Live Woman. Another artist who has a song that follows their beliefs is Lee Ann Womack. Lee Ann Womack has the song I Hope You Dance which also follows along with the beliefs of transcendentalist. Some of the beliefs that transcendentalist had was believing in independence and they also believed in appreciating nature and everything in it for example Lee Ann Womack sings about nature and what happens in it and Trisha Yearwood in one of her songs sings about the importance of being self-reliant and independent she also talks about social reforms and not doing things that is set up by society.
The time period of transcendentalism changed the views of many people through setting different principles otherwise known as tenets. These tenets I am going to focus on is: confidence, self-reliance, free thought, nonconformity, and the importance of nature. Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement in the 1800’s where people responded to the strict rules back then. They declared that they didn’t have to follow all of the rules and decided to go off of independent tenets. Many pieces of literature contain some or all of these tenets, the ones I’m going to discuss and analyze today are Still I Rise by Maya Angelou that focuses on self-reliance and stanza 1 and 52 from Song of Myself by Walt Whitman which focuses on all tenets of transcendentalism. All of the 5 tenets are very important, but the one that overcomes all the others in my life is confidence. Many pieces of literature contain at least all tenets, but reference them in different ways.
Transcendentalism was a huge cultural movement in the nineteenth century; however, the ideas of the movement still continue to influence our society in the twenty-first century. These ideas of Transcendentalism have continued to exist throughout many years because the ideas remain relevant to society. In fact, the problems that many Transcendentalist writers encountered still happen today in new forms. These similar problems include conformity, the role of government in society, and the importance of nature. In general, people still feel that society needs to better itself for the benefit of all individuals, which is at the heart of Transcendentalism. Some of the ideas that Transcendentalists constantly defended included individualism,
The root word of “Transcendentalism” is the word “transcend”, a verb meaning “to be beyond the normal limits of.” Members of the transcendentalist movement in America attempted to achieve this through a closer connection to nature, god, and oneself. This movement existed primarily through literature, in the form of poems, essays, and books. Although transcendentalist philosophy made forays into other forms of expression such as visual art, one medium remained largely ignored: music. It comes as no surprise that music was so ignored, however. How can one achieve spirituality, individualism, and feeling through music? John Coltrane became the first to try. His seminal album, A Love Supreme, opened a new door to spirituality and freedom in jazz
Transcendentalism was an early philosophical, intellectual, and literary movement that thrived in New England in the nineteenth century. Transcendentalism was a collection of new ideas about literature, religion, and philosophy. It began as a squabble in the Unitarian church when intellectuals began questioning and reacting against many of the church’s orthodoxy ways regarding all of the aforementioned subjects: religion, culture, literature, social reform, and philosophy. They in turn developed their own faith focusing on the divinity of humanity and the innate world. Many of the Transcendentalists ideas were expressed heavily by Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essays such as “Nature”, “Self Reliance”, and also in his poems such as “The
American essayist, lecturer, and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay "self-reliance" exemplifies his philosophy and or idea that people have to think for themselves, and have their own thoughts. Emerson was the founder of the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, which was a literary, political, and philosophical movement, which promoted spiritual thinking instead of scientific thinking based on material things. People were starting to follow their feelings, and did what felt correct for them. Emerson's purpose is to argue that people need to avoid conformity. Emerson wrote to inspire, and in hopes of efficiently changing society. He argues that to be a man you have to follow your own ideas and conscious. Emerson wrote in
There have been numerous religious rebellions throughout history, but none quite like that of Transcendentalism. This movement embodies the idea that spiritual growth can be achieved through personal journey instead of conflicting with organized religion. By the time of the movement’s onset, newly gained religious freedom in the United States allowed for new ideas and beliefs to prosper freely. At the heart of this movement was Transcendentalism philosophy famous ambassadors, Ralph Waldo Emerson and apprentice Henry David Thoreau. These men believed nature is what forces us not to depend on other ideas but to develop our own.
Transcendentalism was the philosophical movement that emphasized the break from increasing formalized religion in the 19th century. The leading figure of Transcendentalism was the writer and speaker Ralph Waldo Emerson. However, there were many other figures associated with Transcendentalism: Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden; Amos Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa May Alcott; and Margaret Fuller, an early feminist writer and editor. The 19th century Transcendentalists, in their purest sense, were supposed to believe that all people were joined together in their equality with nature. And, like most philosophy in 19th century America, it did not apply to women as much as it did to men; transcendentalists acknowledged women as sharing that same soul, but women still had to fight for their equality in a patriarchal society. Emerson gives the open definition of Transcendentalism as, “a whole connection of spiritual doctrine” (“Defining Transcendentalism”). Emerson, however, fails to wholly connect all; because of Emerson’s exclusion of women, “he did not fully endorse the aspirations of the women in his milieu” (Cole 413). Walt Whitman, on the other hand, was an exceptional transcendentalist in that his philosophy did not only apply to land-owning white men, but to women. Whitman argues for women’s equality by analyzing them under the scope of transcendentalism; he deconstructs gender boundaries, redefines women as sexual beings, and defends their respectability as such.
During the late 1820’s and 1830’s in the United States, transcendentalism came into light as a response to take a stand against the broad condition of spirituality and intellectualism. Many pieces of written work from that time period utilized the transcendentalist literary style. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance” contains a dense amount of characteristics related to the transcendentalism period. The transcendentalist elements exploited in the essay helped develop the ideas of individuality and nonconformity in society. Emerson uses transcendental core beliefs throughout the essay to project his thoughts and feelings and to inspire the readers to think and act more as individuals.
The theme of individualism is present in several of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s works. It was also his philosophical views on how to live life. He believed that human beings had remarkable capabilities, more than they can possibly identify. With these capabilities a person should govern themselves, not be governed by a society. Emerson also believed that nature played a large role in how man should act and to follow nature’s actions of growing without obstruction (“Nature”). This is why he lead the Transcendentalism movement in the nineteenth century, along with Theodore Parker, Frederic Henry Hedge, Amos Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau (Lewis). This philosophy was not only significant then, it was imperative throughout times in history.