Saturday, April 6, 2019
Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay Example for Free
Ralph Waldo Emerson probeNote Nineteenth Century Ameri tail obscureism is not a religion (in the traditional adept of the word) it is a pragmatic doctrine, a state of mental capacity, and a image of stepuality. It is not a religion because it does not adhere to the three constructs common in major religions a. a belief in a divinity fudge b. a belief in an afterlife (dualism) and c. a belief that this life has consequences on the next (if youre frank in this life, you go to heaven in the next, etc. ). transcendentalism is monist it does not reject an afterlife, but its strain is on this life.The Assumed, Presumed, or the Self-Identified Transcendentalists Central Points of Agreement NOTE The Transcendentalists, in keeping with the several(prenominal)istic nature of this philosophy, disagreed quickly with each other. Here are four points of general agreement Basic Assumption The intuitive faculty, quite of the rational or sensical, became the means for a conscious u nion of the some nonpareil psyche (known in Sanskrit as At human race) with the world psyche in any case known as the Over nous, life-force, prime mover and matinee idol (known in Sanskrit as Brahma).Basic Premises 1. An individual is the spiritual center of the humans and in an individual can be fix the clue to nature, history and, ultimately, the cosmos itself. It is not a rejection of the existence of God, but a preference to explain an individual and the world in terms of an individual. 2. The structure of the universe liter anyy duplicates the structure of the individual self all knowledge, therefore, begins with self-knowledge. This is similar to Aristotles dictum know thyself. 3.Transcendentalists accepted the neo-Platonic conception of nature as a living mystery, full of signs nature is symbolic. 4. The belief that individual virtue and happiness depend upon self-realization this depends upon the satisfaction of two universal psychological tendencies a. the expa nsive or self-transcending tendency a desire to embrace the altogether world to know and become one with the world. b. the contracting or self-asserting tendency the desire to withdraw, ride out unique and separate an egotistical existence. Correspondence.It is a concept which suggests that the external is united with the internal. Physical or clobber nature is neutral or indifferent or objective it is un masterful helpful nor hurtful it is neither beautiful nor ugly. What makes one give such attributes to nature is that individuals imposition of her/his temperament or mood or psyche. If Im feeling lousy, I may dismiss a gorgeous day if Im feeling bright and genial then the most dreary of days becomes tolerable. And so, the Transcendentalists believed that knowing yourself and studying nature is the same activity. nature mirrors our psyche. If I cannot understand myself, may be understanding nature will help. Here is Darrel Abels comeback on this concept Since one predict character was immanent everywhere in nature and in man, mans reason could spot the spiritual ideas in nature and his geniuss could register impressions of the material forms of nature. To man the subject, nature the object, which shared the same divine constitution as himself, presented external images to the innate ideas in his soul. (American Literature, Vol. 2, 1963, 4-5. ) Transcendentalism and the American Past.Transcendentalism as a movement is rooted in the American past To Puritanism it owed its pervasive morality and the doctrine of divine light. It is also similar to the Quaker inner light. However, both these concepts assume acts of God, whereas intuition is an act of an individual. In Unitarianism, deity was decreased to a kind of immanent principle in every person an individual was the true computer address of moral light. To Romanticism it owed the concept of nature as a living mystery and not a clockwork universe (deism) which is fixed and permanent.A subtle chain of countless rings The next unto the farthest brings The shopping centre reads omens where it goes, And speaks all languages the rose And, striving to be man, the worm Mounts through all the spires of form. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, 1836 Transcendentalism was a 1. spiritual, 2. philosophic and 3. literary movement and is located in the history of American Thought as (a). Post-Unitarian and free mentation in religious spirituality (b). Kantian and idealistic in philosophy and (c). Romantic and individualistic in literary productions. A Brief Chronology of Events. 1832 Emerson resigns the ministry of the Unitarian Church unable to administer the holy communion. 1836 The annus mirabilis of the movement, during which Emerson published Nature (the gospel of transcendentalism) George Ripley published Discourses on the Philosophy of Religion Orestes Brownson published New Views of Christianity, Society, and Church Bronson Alcott published render of Conversions in the Gospe l (based on classroom discussions in his Temple School in Boston, and provoking unvoiced criticism) the Transcendental Club, also known as Hedges Club, met for the first time. 1837 Emerson delivers his Phi Beta Kappa address on The American scholarly person at Harvard, which James Russell Lowell called an event without former parallel in our literary annals. 1838 Emerson delivers his Divinity School sell at Harvard which touched off a great storm in religious circles. 1840 The founding of the Dial, a Transcendental magazine, which enjoyed its obscurity, to use Emersons words, for four years. 1841 The launching of George Ripleys Brook Farm a utopian experiment. Hawthorne was a occupier there for a short time and wrote The Blithedale Romance based upon his experience there. 1842 Alcotts utopian experiment at Fruitlands. 1845 Thoreau goes to live at Walden Pond. 1846 Thoreau is put in jail for his refusal to pay poll tax. 1850 Passage of the Fugitive break ones back Act. Th e Transcendentalists found themselves increasingly involved in abolition of slavery. 1855 Walt Whitman publishes his Leaves of Grass. 1859 Charles Darwins Origin of Species is published. 1862 Henry David Thoreau dies. Basic Tenets of American Transcendentalism Note This list moldiness not be considered to be a creed common to all transcendentalists. It is just now a grouping of certain cardinal concepts shared by many of them. 1. Transcendentalism, essentially, is a form of idealism. 2. The transcendentalist transcends or rises above the lower animalistic impulses of life (animal drives) and moves from the rational to a spiritual realm. 3. The human soul is part of the Oversoul or universal spirit (or float for Whitman) to which it and other souls return at death. 4. Therefore, every individual is to be respected because everyone has a portion of that Oversoul (God). 5. This Oversoul or Life Force or God can be found everywhere travel to holy places is, therefore, not nece ssary.6. God can be found in both nature and human nature (Nature, Emerson stated, has spiritual manifestations). 7. Jesus also had part of God in himself he was divine as everyone is divine except in that he lived an exemplary and transcendental life and made the best use of that Power which is within each one. 8. Miracle is monster. The miracles of the Bible are not to be regarded as important as they were to the people of the past. Miracles are all about us the unharmed world is a miracle and the smallest creature is one.A mouse is a miracle enough to stagger quintillions of infidels. Whitman 9. More important than a concern about the afterlife, should be a concern for this life the one thing in the world of value is the active soul. Emerson 10. Death is never to be feared, for at death the soul merely passes to the oversoul. 11. Emphasis should be placed on the here and now. Give me one world at a time. Thoreau 12. Evil is a negative merely an absence of good. Light is more powerful than darkness because one ray of light penetrates the dark. 13.Power is to be obtained by defying fate or predestination, which seem to work against humans, by exercising ones own spiritual and moral strength. Emphasis on self-reliance. 14. Hence, the emphasis is placed on a human sight process. 15. The transcendentalists see the necessity of examples of great leaders, writers, philosophers, and others, to show what an individual can become through thinking and action. 16. It is foolish to worry about consistency, because what an intelligent person believes tomorrow, if he/she trusts oneself, tomorrow may be only different from what that person thinks and believes today.A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Emerson 17. The unity of life and universe must be realized. There is a congressship between all things. 18. One must submit faith in intuition, for no church or creed can communicate truth. 19. Reform must not be emphasized true reform comes from within. Reasons for the Rise of American Transcendentalism There was no one precise cause for the beginning of Transcendentalism. According to Paul Boller, chance, coincidence and several independent events, thoughts and tendencies seemed to bedevil converged in the 1830s in New England.Some of these were 1. The steady erosion of Calvinism. 2. The progressive secularization of modern thought under the impact of science and technology. 3. The emergence of a Unitarian intelligentsia with the means, leisure, and training to pursue literature and scholarship. 4. The increasing insipidity and irrelevance of liberal religion to questing young minds lack of involvement in womens rights and abolitionism. 5. The infringement of the machine into the New England garden and the disruption of the old order by the burgeoning industrialism. 6.The impact of European ideas on Americans traveling abroad. 7. The appearance of talented and energetic young people like Emerson, Fuller, and Thoreau on the scene. 8. The imperatives of logic itself for those who take ideas seriously the impossibility, for instance, of accepting modern science without revising traditional religious views. Important ideas from Warren, Robert Penn, Cleanth Brooks, and R. W. B. Lewis. A depicted object Literature and Romantic Individualism. in Romanticism. eds. James Barbour and Thomas Quirk. NY Garland, 1986, 3-24. 1.Transcendentalism was a philosophical, literary, social, and theological movement. 2. Its origin is traced to the relaxing of Puritan Calvinism into Unitarianism a belief very much like Deism. From its early liberalism, Unitarianism developed, for some of the young intellectuals, into a new orthodoxy of smug social conformity that denied the spiritual and emotional depths of experience corpse-cold Unitarianism, as Emerson was to call it. (11) 3. German and English Romanticism provided some inspiration towards the search for some deeper truth. 4.Tra nscendentalism represented a multifactorial response to the democratization of American life, to the rise of science and the new technology, and to the new industrialism to the whole question, in short, of the redefinition of the relation of man to nature and to other men that was being demanded by the course of history. (11-12) 5. Influences a. From Plato came the idealism according to which macrocosm subsists beyond the appearances of the world. Plato also suggests that the world is an expression of spirit, or mind, which is sheer intelligibility and therefore good. b.From Immanuel Kant came the notion of the native spontaneousness of the human mind against the passive conception of the 18th c. sensational theory (also known as the philosophy of empiricism of John Locke and David Hume the concept that the mind begins as a tabula rasa and that all knowledge develops from sensation). c. From Coleridge came the immensity of wonder, of antirationalism, and the importance of indiv idual consciousness. d. From Puritanism came the ethical seriousness and the aspect of Jonathan Edwards that suggested that an individual can receive divine light at present and instanter.6. Transcendentalism was, at its core, a philosophy of naked individualism, aimed at the creation of the new American, the self-reliant man, complete and independent. (22) 7. The achievement of the transcendentalists has a grandeur. They did confront, and helped define, the great issues of their time, and if they did not resolve those issues, we of the late twentieth century, who have not but resolved them, are in no position to look down our noses at their labour. (23)Towards a interpretation of Transcendentalism A Few Comments from Henry David Gray, Emerson A Statement of N. E. Transcendentalism as Expressed in the Philosophy of Its Chief Exponent, 1917 1. The spirit of the time is in every form a protest against exercising and a search for principles. Emerson in the opening number of Th e Dial. 2. I was given to understand that whatever was involved would be certainly Transcendental. Charles Dickens in American Notes 3. I should have told them at once that I was a transcendentalist.That would have been the shortest way of telling them that they would not understand my explanations. Thoreau, Journal, V4 4. The word Transcendentalism, as used at the present day, has two applications. One of which is popular and in clear, the other, philosophical and precise. In the former sense it describes man, rather than opinions, since it is freely extended to those who hold opinions, not only diverse from each other, but directly opposed. Noah Porter, 1842 5.Transcendentalism is the recognition in man of the capacity of knowing truth intuitively, or of attaining a scientific knowledge of an order of existence transcending the reach of the senses, and of which we can have no sensible experience. J. A. Saxton, Dial II 90 6. Literally a passing beyond all media in the appr oach to the Deity, Transcendentalism contained an effort to establish, mainly by the discipline of the intuitive faculty, direct intercourse between the soul and God. Charles J. Woodbury in negotiation with Ralph Waldo Emerson 7.Transcendentalism was not speculative, but essentially practical and reformatory. John Orr in The Transcendentalism of New England, worldwide Review, XIII 390 8. Transcendentalism was a distinct philosophical system. Practically it was an assertion of the inalienable worth of man theoretically it was an assertion of the immanence of divinity in instinct, the transference of supernatural attributes to the natural constitution of mankind. Transcendentalism is usually spoken of as a philosophy. It is more justly regarded as a gospel.As a philosophy it is so far from uniform, that it may rather be considered several systems than one. Transcendentalism was an enthusiasm, a vagabond of sentiment, a breath of mind. O. B. Frothingham in Transcendentalis m in New England, 1876 9. The problem of transcendental philosophy is no less than this, to revise the experience of mankind and try its teachings by the nature of mankind, to test ethics by conscience, science by reason to try the creeds of the churches, the constitution of the states, by the constitution of the universe. Theodore Parker in Works VI 37 10. We feel it to be a solemn duty to warn our readers, and in our measure, the public, against this German atheism, which the spirit of darkness is employing ministers of the gospel to smuggle in among us under false pretenses. Princeton Review XII 71 11. Protestantism ends in Transcendentalism. Orestes Brownson in Works, 209 12. The fundamentals of Transcendentalism are to be felt as sentiments, or grasped by the imagination as poetical wholes, rather than set down in propositions. Cabot, A Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1887, I 248 13. First and foremost, it can only be rightly conceived as an intellectual, aesthetic, and spi ritual ferment, not a rigorously reasoned doctrine. It was a renaissance of conscious, living faith in the power of reason, in the reality of spiritual insight, in the privilege, beauty, and glory of life. Frances Tiffany, Transcendentalism The New England Renaissance, Unitarian Review, XXXI 111. 14. The Transcendentalist adopts the whole connection of spiritual doctrine. If there is anything grand or daring in human thought or virtue, any reliance on the vast, the unknown any presentiment, any extravagance of faith, the spiritualist adopts it as most in nature. The oriental mind has always tended to this largeness. Buddhism is an expression of it. The Buddhist is a Transcendentalist. Shall we say then that Transcendentalism is the Saturnalia or supernumerary of Faith the presentiment of a faith proper to man in his integrity, excessive only when his progressive tense obedience hinders the satisfaction of his wish? Ralph Waldo Emersons lecture on The Transcendentalist, Works I 317-320 15. (Transcendentalism was) a blending of Platonic metaphysics and the Puritan spirit, of a philosophy and a character taking place at a definite time, in a specially fertilized soil, under particular conditions. H. C. Goddard, Studies in New England Transcendentalism, 1908. 16. If I were a Bostonian, I think I would be a Transcendentalist. Charles Dickens in American Notes.