Transcendentalism : The Light That We Can Not See

1689 WordsMay 24, 20167 Pages
Transcendentalism: The Light That We Cannot See “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). The transcendentalist
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