Transcendentalism in Civil Disobedience

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Dannheisig 1 Jan-Hendrik Dannheisig Susanne Hamscha, M.A. Re(dis)covering America: Emerson, Thoreau, and American Democracy 10 April 2012 Transcendentalism in "Civil Disobedience" Thoreau's Politics of Individuality and Nature Dannheisig 2 Contents Introduction 1. Transcendentalism a. Nature b. Introspective Conscience and Politics 2. Political Individualism a. Ethical and Political (In)justice b. Critique of Democracy Conclusion Bibliography 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Dannheisig 3 Introduction Henry David Thoreau was part of a movement called American Transcendentalism. To illuminate Thoreau's understanding of democracy, political action and justice this paper will focus on the influence transcendentalism had on his ideas and…show more content…
The project was financially unsuccessful and eventually failed when some of the buildings burned down.4 The Transcendentalist movement did not have one direction that it followed but was by definition only in agreement over the fact that nature is the remedy to societal disfiguration. To transcend societal restraints means to refocus on what the "real" and "natural" behaviors and convictions are. The easiest way to understand what is natural to a Transcendentalist is to comprehend what is not. To Emerson secularization and the development of fascination with science and the intellectualism that grew with it bore dangers to the individual and its personal formation. A development away from the individual experience of one's surroundings and towards the study of empiric studies would create structures of knowledge that are unquestioned by its students who believe that only what is written is true. "Roles imposed on the individual by society and its institutions impeded individual expression and freedom, restricted choice, and ultimately resulted in self-alienation."5 A lot of the influence that formed transcendentalist thought came from Romanticism. The understanding that sense is more important than intellect and
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