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American Transcendentalism

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American Transcendentalism It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, always do what you are afraid to do. - Ralph Waldo Emerson – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: American Transcendentalism


1
American Transcendentalism
  • It was a high counsel that I once heard given
    to a young person, always do what you are afraid
    to do.
  • - Ralph Waldo Emerson

2
Transcendentalism
  • Emerson first expressed his philosophy in his
    essay Nature.
  • Transcendentalism was a group of new ideas in
    literature, religion, culture, and philosophy
    that emerged in New England in the early-to
    mid-19th century.
  • Though the transcendental movement was relatively
    short, its influence on the American culture is
    vast

3
The first transcendentalists
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Margaret Fuller
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Bronson Alcott

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Core Beliefs
  • Human senses are limited they convey knowledge
    of the physical world, but deeper truths can be
    grasped only through intuition (gut feeling).
  • The observation of nature shows the truth about
    human beings.
  • God, nature, and humanity are united in a shared
    universal soul, or Over-Soul.
  • No political or religious institution is as
    powerful or important as the individual.

6
1. Human senses are limited they convey
knowledge of the physical world, but deeper
truths can be grasped only through intuition (gut
feeling).
  • Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me
    truth.
  • Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called
    comforts of life are not only not indispensable,
    but positive hindrances to the elevation of
    mankind.

7
2. God, nature, and humanity are united in a
shared universal soul, or Over-Soul.
  • Unlike Puritans, they saw humans and nature as
    possessing an innate goodness.
  • In the faces of men and women, I see God
  • -Walt Whitman
  • Opposed strict ritualism and
  • dogma of established religion.

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3. No political or religious institution is as
powerful or important as the individual.
  • There is a time in every mans education when he
    arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance
    that imitation in suicide
  • What I must do is
  • all that concerns me,
  • not what people think
  • to be great is to be misunderstood

Self-Reliance--Emerson
11
  • How deep the ruts of tradition and conformity.

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  • If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
    perhaps it is because he hears a different
    drummer. Let him step to the music he hears,
    however measured or far away.

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4. The observation of nature shows the truth
about human beings.Nature--Thoreau
  • Thoreau began essential living
  • Built a cabin on land owned to Emerson in
    Concord, Mass. near Walden Pond
  • Lived alone there
  • for two years studying
  • nature and seeking
  • truth within himself

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  • I went into the woods because I wished to live
    deliberately, to front only the essential facts
    of life and see if I could not learn what it has
    to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover
    that I had not lived.

18
Heaven is under our feet as well as over our
heads.
19
Still we live meanly like ants.Our life is
frittered away by detail.Why should we live
with such hurry and waste of life?Simplicity,
simplicity, simplicity. I say, let your affairs
be as two or three and not a hundred or a
thousand.
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Civil Disobedience--Thoreau
  • Thoreaus essay urging passive, non-violent
    resistance to governmental policies to which an
    individual is morally opposed.
  • Influenced individuals such a Ghandi, Dr. Martin
    Luther King Jr., and Cesar Chavez

22
If injustice is of such a nature that it
requires you to be the agent of injustice to
another, then, I say, break the law. Let your
life be the friction to stop the machine.
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