Transcendentalism in Modern America Essay

Transcendentalism in Modern America Essay.

America has always been a different type of country; from the day it fought the British in 1776 to the consumerist America of today. It broke the norm of having a monarch who consolidated power, and instead gave that power to the people. These very important pieces of American history helped spark the transcendentalist movement, as it was the first literary movement in the United States. Transcendentalism, through the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, illustrated the beloved ideals of non-conformity, individualism, and the appreciation of beauty.

And, while a transcendentalist society seems impossible in modern American, it is without a doubt that transcendentalism helped form the individuality of what is the American spirit and society. By its nature, transcendentalism goes against the status quo because people’s overly structured lives do not bring happiness to them. Thus, “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members” (Emerson 3). This is because society is made of many people, but only the individual can decide what is right for him or herself.

Free thinkers have found it almost impossible to live their own life due to the overbearing power of a society that tries to get rid of any source of creativity and individualism, and instead, sticks to a monotonous routine. Transcendentalism does not follow society in its materialistic and over complicated ways, but it states that a person “has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers…” (Thoreau 383). This quote, from Walden, explains how people tend to over think and over complicate life instead of living in its beautiful simplicity.

Thoreau often wondered why people needed to buy new clothes every year, and he was even more mystified by the consumerism and industrialization of the world. His beliefs still hold true today because even with a thousand of the newest pieces of technology, self-gratification cannot be achieved until a person is truly happy. Intentional or not, society always has to, “crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels,” (Thoreau 373).

Transcendentalists believe in a world where people like these can be accepted rather than condemned to death. Even in the modern world, people with ideas that are different are discriminated against and are sometimes expelled for their alleged radical beliefs. Therefore, a transcendentalist society can only be achieved when the constant pressures of the current American society fade away. Contrary to belief, the American society, while extremely pushed by materialistic desires, still embodies a few transcendentalist views.

Civil disobedience is a very common theme found in transcendentalism as many social movements have found their reasoning through the idea of non-conformity such as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the Women’s Rights Movement of the 1970s. Due to the economic boom of the 1950s, however, America has been a capitalistic consumerist utopia where owning things can substitute self-satisfaction. Many movies and songs today embody the over materialization of America.

In the popular Disney movie, The Little Mermaid, Ariel asks herself the same question in her song Part of Your World because she realizes that she has every item she could want, but it can never fill the hole in her heart. In America, people find themselves lonely and unfulfilled even though they have everything could have ever wanted because they have not found a way to do what they want to do. They have over complicated life, leaving them in misery.

As mentioned earlier, America has started to withdraw from transcendentalism more than ever due to greed, but the “American Dream,” nonetheless has been able to retain those beliefs to some extent. This is because the “American Dream” still envisions what it always has, which is for any person to go after his or her goals and achieve what he or she would like to. There will always be that push from the American society that urges people to seek money before happiness, but the beauty of the “American Dream” is that a person can still do both.

Although, Emerson and Thoreau would be displeased with the American society today, there would be some hope inside their hearts knowing that people can still pursue their dreams. In America, people are taught at a young age to do what they want to in life, and while very few choose to follow this advice, the people who do are the ones who live the “American Dream. ” Transcendentalism gave birth to what would encompass the intrepid spirit of America. Even though this flame is dying, it is clear that transcendentalism cannot burn out in America until the very ideals of free will and opportunity, which made this great country, cease to exist.

Transcendentalism in Modern America Essay

Transcendentalism vs Anti-Transcendentalism Essay

Transcendentalism vs Anti-Transcendentalism Essay.

1. ) Transcendentalism a. Proverbs 3:5 b. John 17:17 c. Jeremiah 17:9 d. Isaiah 53:6 e. Proverbs 18:2 f. Colossians 2:8 2. ) Anti-Transcendentalism a. Romans 8:5 b. Romans 8: 12-13 c. Romans 8:6 d. Psalm 103:12 e. Galatians 5:1 Facts: 1. ) Transcendentalism a. The rise of transcendentalism was due based on the conflict against the Unitarian church. b. There are many definitions to transcendentalism but the same point is that philosophy of insight is the guide for spirituality.

c. It’s a philosophy that states wisdom of reality is based on analysis of our thought process and not from scientific evidence.

d. God only exists through human insight. e. Most of transcendentalism thought came from German idealism and writings from the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. f. Belief in universal truths. g. The belief that man is born good, and that he is the perfect creation of God h. Hedge would start a group that include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, James Marsh, Caleb Henry, Theodore parker, Margaret Fuller. This group started for undeceived Unitarian minsters but later became a Transcendental Club.


Defining what transcendentalism was a problem from the beginning mostly noted by Emerson letters to his mother complaining that many ask him to define it. The problem was that the only belief that Transcendentalists was consistent on was the belief of hedge’s adjustment of Coleridge’s meaning of Kant’s idealism. j. Transcendentalists would do more than trusting their feelings, they would be guided by texts from Hinduism. 2. ) Anti-Transcendentalism a. They opposed the optimism of the transcendentalist. b. They pointed out the failures of a utopian society.

c. They were discontent by the circumstances in America which lead them to write about moral dilemmas and society’s ill. d. It showed the nature of a deeply and sinister spiritual force than Transcendentalism e. The way to find God is though living a good life and with good deeds. f. It was a philosophical movement that went against Transcendentalism in a group of writers consisting in Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville g. Anti-transcendentalism showed the dark side of humans, the true nature of society and the power of self-destruction.

h. They show that characters in literature are prone to be sinful, evil, and bitter beings of life. i. Their beliefs are shown in three parts 1) that humans have the potential destructives 2) that truth of existence is deceitful and disturbing and lastly 3) human nature has an original sin that cause evil to be active in the universe. j. Anti-transcendentalism focus on the evilness, guilt, and remorse over sin and past sin. k. No such thing is a universal truth, just individual truths.

Transcendentalism vs Anti-Transcendentalism Essay

Transcendentalism Essay Essay

Transcendentalism Essay Essay.

?Transcendentalism is a movement that started in New England in the early to mid nineteenth century. It was created as a protest against the general culture at the time, straying away from the mindless doctrines of the churches. I think that Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, and Dickinson did a good job of explaining what Transcendentalism is really about, which is that death is coming for everyone. Our Town stands out to me because it doesn’t use any props, and its strong symbolism that makes a point without being boring and difficult to understand.

There is some question to what you can define the meaning as, however. “Thornton Wilder’s Our Town reflects the ideas and ideals central to Transcendentalism. The musings of Emerson and Thoreau can be heard echoing from the streets of Grover’s Corners, and the poetry of Dickinson and Whitman reverberates in the words of Wilder’s timeless characters. The play presents us with a glimpse of what Thoreau must have felt at Walden Pond”.

I personally do not entirely agree with this quote. I think that while Our Town does incorporate several different ideas of Transcendentalism it is lacking its main theme: nature.

Our Town is filled with many themes that are similar to Transcendentalism. Thornton is showing us how the small things we really do not think much about are actually the biggest and most important parts of our life. Unfortunately, one really realizes this and those moments are not truly appreciated. When Emily dies, she is a spirit in the graveyard with the rest of the people buried there. Emily finally understands the importance of the little things when she goes back in time and relives one of her early birthdays. She comments to her husband’s late mother that “They don’t understand, do they?

” If you do not enjoy the things that happen every day, how can you possibly enjoy your life? Through the actions of the characters in Our Town, Thornton basically tells us “Just do it”. Life is too short to waste it sitting on the fence or being hung up in things, just live your life and don’t waste time. A good example of this is when Mrs. Gibbs finally accepts that her husband isn’t going to go on some fancy vacation out of town and stops worrying about it. While Our Town is obviously influenced by the idea of Transcendentalism, I do not think it does justice to the idea.

Transcendentalism’s main theme is the beauty and glory of nature. What we as a society think is important means nothing to nature, and we as people are nothing compared to nature. Transcendentalism in my opinion is almost like Pantheism. God basically is the entity that is nature, and we already know God unknowingly instead of having some big spiritual quest to find God. Our Town has little to nothing about nature or the ideas surrounding it. This is why I do not think Our Town really expresses Transcendentalism; you cannot have the idea without themes of nature.

Regardless of what ideas Our Town is trying to explain, it is still a very successful and enjoyable play that is a great example of American literature. As much as I enjoyed watching it, I can’t comfortably call it a good example of Transcendentalism. Nature is too much of a central theme to be cut out from the idea, you could even say the focusing on society and the man made town goes directly against the ideas the Transcendentalism authors have created. Top of Form Bottom of Form help on how to format text.

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Transcendentalism Essay Essay

Transcendentalism vs. Anti-Transcendentalism Essay

Transcendentalism vs. Anti-Transcendentalism Essay.

In the mid-1830s, Ralph Waldo Emerson created a belief called Transcendentalism. He wrote the essay, “Self Reliance” and Henry David Thoreau, another Transcendentalist wrote an essay called, “Walden. ” Both works of literature focus on the Transcendentalism belief. In “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne reveals both Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism through the attitudes of the characters. Therefore, “The Minister’s Black Veil” can be compared and contrasted with both “Self Reliance” and “Walden. ” During the 1830s and 1840s, Transcendentalism was influenced mostly by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

When the idea was first created, Emerson and a small group of people got together to discuss philosophy, religion, and literature. This group of people became known as the Transcendental Club. The Transcendentalists believe in the essential unity of all creation, the innate goodness of man, and the supremacy of insight over logic and experience for the revelation of the deepest truths. They also stress the importance of nature and that all forms of being, God, nature, and humanity, are spiritually united through a shared universal soul.

In contrast, the idea of Anti-Transcendentalism was first established by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Anti-Transcendentalism focused on the limitations and potential destructiveness of the human spirit rather than its possibilities. They also believe that people have the potential to do bad things in their life and that God should be on a higher level than society. In the short story, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” the minister, Parson Hooper, is a well-respected and peaceful man, however his congregation becomes eerie when he wears a black veil over his face. The reverend is never bothered to know that people see him as a different person.

“Among all its bad influences, the black veil had the one desirable effect, of making its wearer a very efficient clergyman” (275). Similarly, in “Self-Reliance,” Emerson throughout, explains to be your own person, and not to have others define who you are. “Accept the place the divine providence has found for you; the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events” (242). Emerson also says, “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance: that imitation is suicide…” (242). Here, Emerson does not believe in conformity. He also states, “To be great is to be misunderstood…” (242).

This quote means that people with new ideas are often not understood by the general public. Emerson’s quote compares to Parson Hooper because Hooper was a good clergyman; however, he was misunderstood because he wore the black veil. In Thoreau’s essay, “Walden,” he explains the belief of connecting spirituality with nature. He says that one should think freely, learning to understanding more and being able to make further conclusions about life. “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer” (258). Parson Hooper heard “a different drummer” and followed his own way of life.

The minister did not want to be like his congregation, he wanted to be his own person. Therefore, Parson Hooper was in fact a Transcendentalist. Parson Hooper’s congregation was all alike. They thought that their minister was strange for wearing a black veil over his face. All of the people in the society were all similar to each other, there were no differences. However, they felt uncomfortable when they saw Parson Hooper just because of his black veil. They believed in conformity and individuality, which contrasts with Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and Thoreau’s “Walden.

” In Hawthorne’s story, a lady says, “How strange that a simple black veil, such as any woman might wear on her bonnet, should become such a terrible thing on Mr. Hooper’s face! ” (270). Reiterating the fact that the minister’s congregation was extremely wary of this black veil that Parson Hooper wore. However, at the end of the story, a man says, “I look around me, and, lo! On every visage a Black Veil! ” (276). This quote means that one person out of the entire anti-transcendentalist society realizes that everyone has something to hide in life, people do not always lead a perfect life.

Transcendentalism is a belief that the human spirit and the relationship between nature and its connection is humanity, while Anti-Transcendentalism focused on the potential of people doing bad things. In Hawthorne’s short story, Parson Hooper is his own person in wearing the veil comparing with Emerson and Thoreau’s essays of Transcendentalism and Hooper’s congregation is all the same which make them the Anti-Transcendentalists. All three writers clearly express their similar or different views on individuality through their literary works.

Transcendentalism vs. Anti-Transcendentalism Essay

Enlightenment, Transcendentalism, and Puritan Theology Essay

Enlightenment, Transcendentalism, and Puritan Theology Essay.

Enlightenment, transcendentalism, and puritan theology: 3 philosophies that shaped 3 centuries in America. Since the time periods of each philosophy overlapped with the others, all 3 had similarities as well as differences. From these philosophies came different writers with different views, shaping American prose. A major Enlightenment author was Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine wrote a piece called “The Age of Reason. ” In this piece he fully encompassed the ideologies of the Enlightenment. These included the belief in the perfectibility of a human being, universal benevolence, faith in natural goodness, and the sovereignty of reason.

He talked about the flaws in religion and the idea that “his own mind is his own church. ” In his piece he said that everything can be explained through science and that nothing was made in vein. This piece completely outlined what people believed during the Enlightenment. During the enlightenment there was a major focus on science and finding rational and scientific explanations for everything. What Thomas Paine said went against the beliefs of Puritans.

He believed that religious duties included doing justice, loving mercy, and trying to make others happy.

He claimed that all religions were based on hearsay revelations, and he was not obliged to believe that those revelations took place. He said that a revelation is a revelation only to the person who had it, and that he will not believe hearsay evidence of something. This goes against the Puritan ideas with their claims that one will burn in hell if one does not believe in Christ. The Puritans based their ideas not on scientific evidence, but rather on “God’s will” and following the bible. Jonathon Edwards, an important Puritan writer, explained exactly what would happen to one if one did not believe in Christ or do as God wished.

He argued against Thomas Paines’ accusations that the church was corrupt and used religion and fear of god to gain power and profit. The Puritan beliefs were clearly stated by Jonathon Edwards. Puritans believed that salvation is a matter of personal responsibility and that no religious authority on earth could assure salvation. They believed in pre-destination, but that living a good life and doing good were signs that someone was saved. They believed that someone would make a decision to be a good and religious person because God made them make good decisions since they were to be saved.

Whereas, if someone were to make a bad decision, and not do good in life, that was God’s plan all along and that person was not to be saved. Jonathon Edwards emphasized the necessity to not sin in this life, for if one does, they will burn in hell in the next. He made it clear that one must believe in Christ in order to be saved, and that in order to be saved one must integrate their personal identity completely. Most of their beliefs were contradictory to Enlightenment beliefs, except for one. The Puritans believed that one must be educated on human history, current events, and natural phenomena, as well as Scripture.

In order to be saved one must know how to read and be well educated, so in a sense they emphasized education just as the Enlightenment followers did, just for a different reason. During the Transcendental period people also emphasized the need for education. However, the Transcendentalists were more focused on learning about thy self and not specifically about history or nature. They believed that through learning about thy self, one would also be learning about nature and history and even the cosmos. They believed that the structure of the universe literally duplicates the structure of thy self.

They thought that the external was united with the internal; how one felt about and saw the world reflected how the individual saw him or her self and felt inside. They believed that “beauty is within the eye of the beholder. ” The goal of transcendentalists was to become one with the world by learning about the self and thus the world. There were two main authors that laid out transcendental ideologies. One was Henry David Thoreau. In his piece titled “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau talks about the flaws in the American government. He stated that a government where “majority rules” is not one based on justice.

He said that people should be men first, and subjects second. He explained that it is important for a person to live life with their conscience and serve the country with their conscience. In summary, he said that men should be true to themselves and government should recognize the individual as a higher and independent power. He explained that the government couldn’t attack one’s mind, only their body. In his other piece, titled “Walden,” Thoreau stated that people needed to simplify their lives and enjoy the small things in life.

He said that as one simplifies life, the laws of the universe also become more simple to that person, and one can become one with the world. He emphasized that people need to learn to love their life and accept it as it is. The other transcendental author was Ralph Waldo Emerson. He wrote a piece called “Self-Reliance” in which he talks about the importance of being an individual, not conforming to the beliefs of others, and staying true to thy self. He said people should learn to appreciate the simple things in life and not value property and material goods as high as they do.

He said that one should value the self and the soul most, for in the end staying true to one’s self is all that matters. All of the ideas given by these two authors are transcendental beliefs. These transcendental beliefs were very contrary to the Puritan beliefs. The transcendentalists were focused on knowing thyself and thus knowing the universe and becoming one with nature. Puritans were focused on living a good life by conforming to what God supposedly wants them to do. They were focused on the afterlife more than this life, and made it seem more important. Transcendentalists, on the other hand, put more emphasis on this life.

One similarity between the two philosophies is that neither was based on science or rationale. Both philosophies take huge leaps and require faith and belief, for they don’t have much evidence to support what they believe. The Puritans took the leap of believing in God and Christ and that the bible is legitimate. The Transcendentalists took the leap of believing that the self is a parallel to the universe and that in knowing oneself one then knows everything about the universe as well. Enlightenment, on the other hand, is based on science and rationale, a major difference between Transcendentalism and the Enlightenment.

During the Enlightenment, people did put emphasis on knowing thy self, but did not assume that by knowing thy self, one knows the cosmos. They put an emphasis on knowing thy self so that one would stay true to one’s self and not conform to what others said. People during the Enlightenment made education a huge deal and were focused on finding scientific reasons for everything that occurred in nature. The Enlightenment was based on ration and science, whereas Transcendentalism was based on knowing thy self and becoming one with nature. However, the 2 philosophies did have similarities.

One included that they both were focused on this life rather than the next. In addition, they both focused on the individual and believed that it is possible for people to better themselves. Each philosophy had their similarities and differences, their ups and their downs, but personally I agree most with the Enlightenment. I think that the Puritans and Transcendentalists contradicted themselves and made too huge of leaps in their faiths. Jonathon Edwards contradicted himself and Puritan beliefs. Puritans believed in pre-destination, and yet he claimed that God made no promise to keep any man out of hell and can cast anyone into hell.

If the fate of every person is predestined, then God has already decided whom he will cast into hell, and therefore won’t cast any random person into hell, only those who are predestined to go there. He contradicted himself again by saying that God has no obligation to save someone from eternal damnation until they believe in Christ, and therefore once they do believe in Christ, God does have that obligation. Once again this goes against his first statement saying that God may cast anyone into hell. Ralph Emerson contradicts himself as well.

He stated that a person should not conform to what others say, but rather accept him or her self as they are. Yet, he also states that people should learn to not value material goods as much as people do. He said that people should change what they think and value the little things in life more. This is contradictory because he is telling people not to conform, but then telling them to conform to what he says they should do. In addition, if someone were to accept who they are, for better and for worse, then why would they change what they value most?

If someone were to truly accept who they are, they would not change their life in any way, but rather accept their faults and merits. Transcendentalism and Puritanism both involve leaps in faith. Neither has much evidence to support what they believe, but rather expect people to follow those beliefs out of fear or other means. I also simply disagree with what they both say. Transcendentalists state that as one simplifies life, the laws of nature and the world become less complex. I disagree, I think that they only think everything is less complex, for they are ignorant to the real world and what is really happening.

There is always a simple answer for everything, but there is a complex answer as well. It seems transcendentalists simply wish to only pay attention to the simple answers. Puritanism I cannot agree with for they ruin their argument by contradicting themselves on their main beliefs. Everything Thomas Paine said made sense to me. He doesn’t contradict himself, staying true to what he believed. I agree with the Enlightenment ideology that everything can be explained through scientific reasoning. Paine’s arguments had support and made sense. His arguments against religion were strong, and yet he didn’t force them upon others. He

stated that people have the right to believe what they want to believe, and was simply sharing his own ideas. This was contrary to Jonathon Edwards, who stated that people who didn’t believe him and didn’t believe in Christ would burn in hell. Enlightenment, Puritanism, and Transcendentalism were 3 philosophies that have helped shape America. Authors such as Paine, Edwards, Emerson, and Thoreau helped shape American prose. Their different beliefs and styles made American prose diverse and original. Even though I disagree with much of what the Puritans and Transcendentalists believed, each period equally contributed to what America has become.

Enlightenment, Transcendentalism, and Puritan Theology Essay

A Roller Coaster Ride Essay

A Roller Coaster Ride Essay.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Failing is not the end of everything, you just need to stand up and continue to strive hard. Most of the successful personalities experienced hardships and failures but these failures led them to become what they are today. When I was a little kid my mother teaches me that whenever I fail I just need to stay strong, to continue my journey and the most important thing is to believe in God.

I grew up in believing that I just do my best and God will do the rest and aside from that failure should not be a hindrance in reaching for my goals and dreams. In my life in Saint Jude Catholic School, I experienced ups and downs that made me stronger and pushed me to achieve my goals. When I was in elementary, I experienced being one of the achievers of my class and then become one of the failing students.

I had high scores in exams and also failing marks. Being the third and only girl in my family, I am always compared to my older brothers. My older brothers are always on top of their classes, a medallist and they win during competitions.

At first I was annoyed, ashamed and hated my parents because of pushing me too hard and letting me feel that I’m a useless daughter but eventually I learned that I should prove to them that I can excel and make them proud too. For years, I studied really hard and concentrated on my studies and set aside all the problems I have and when I reached high school I became a constant achiever, I am always part of the top five of my class and I always get good grades. I also join extracurricular activities and I am also part of the swimming varsity team and I always manage my time well. In addition to that when I was in second year, I was faced with a new challenge. I was approached by two juniors asking me to join their party for the upcoming election for the new set of student councils. At first, I was not sure whether to join or not. I was afraid that I don’t have the qualities of being a student council, I was afraid that I might lose and most especially I lack self-confidence but after asking for some pieces of advice from my teachers, family and friends I decided to join.

Because of my determination, faith in God and support from my schoolmates, I won the election as the Assistant Treasurer of the Student Council Central Board 2011-2012. Being part of the SCCB is really hard; I need to manage my time – for my studies, for my trainings and also for my meetings but I still did well. Because I won during the 2010-2011 election, I decided to join the next election as the Treasurer of the Student Council Central Board. I was full of confidence that I will win again this election because of my experience and support from my friends but after the counting of votes, my opponent was named as the Treasurer of the Student Council Central Board 2012-2013.

After the announcement I felt like it’s the end of my life because I was expecting that I will win but instead I lose. When I got home, I was crying and my mother told me that I should learn how to accept failures. My mother also told me that with these failures I would be stronger and my life would change for the better. With these experiences, I learned that life is full of challenges. Sometimes you may be on top and sometimes you may fall. In overcoming these challenges, you just need to stay strong, believe in yourself and be optimistic. These challenges helped me to become stronger and most of all to believe in myself. And I also learned that everything is unpredictable and possible. These experiences have helped me define as who am I today.

A Roller Coaster Ride Essay