Transcendentalism In Literature Essay Research Paper Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism In Literature Essay, Research Paper Transcendentalism is the belief that matters of ultimate reality transcend, or go beyond, human experience. Transcendentalist thinking began during the

Transcendentalism In Literature Essay, Research Paper

Transcendentalism is the belief that matters of ultimate reality transcend, or

go beyond, human experience. Transcendentalist thinking began during the

American Renaissance with writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David

Thoreau. However transcendental thinking did not begin with Thoreau and Emerson,

but as Emerson called it, ?it is the very oldest of thoughts cast into the

mold of these new times.? Transcendentalism is based on the ancient philosophy

of Idealism, which originates with Plato, a well-known philosopher from ancient

Greece. Transcendentalism is an appropriate way of thinking for the period known

as the American Renaissance because it puts one into a state of mind that is

more conducive to creative writing and thought. Transcendentalism is a lot to

swallow, especially for many people of that time. Herman Melville totally

captured the common man?s reaction to the whole concept when he said, ?what

stuff all this is.? It really takes a trained mind to grasp the concept of

this spiritual world that Emerson describes. Many people do not believe in

things that they cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell, so the extremely

abstract concept of transcendentalism is totally out of their reach. However,

for the people that can grasp this idea, it is very fulfilling.

Transcendentalism makes people feel closer to God, in tune with nature, and

gives a person a sense of self-worth. A major aspect of transcendental thinking

is the individual defiance against the established orders of society. Henry

David Thoreau conveys his feeling about this when he says; ?That government is

best which governs not at all.? He believes that the ineptitude of the

political leaders far out-weighs the amount of good that they could do. He also

states that ?They who have been bred in the school of politics fail now and

always to face the facts.? In this, he means that politicians ignore reality

when it does not serve their purpose. This is true for modern times as all can

see in the present political situation of the United States. Politicians are

ignoring reality to serve their own personal and partisan agendas. The

transcendentalists even went as far as to set up their own communities, the most

famous of which, Brook Farm. Brook Farm, a self-governing, experimental

community, lasted only six years, (the longest of all the transcendental

communities), is where many famous authors of the American Renaissance call home

for a part of their lives, and is even the setting for Nathaniel Hawthorne?s

Blithedale Romance. Hawthorne lived at the Farm for a little while, but left

because he could not stand the highly intellectual and spiritual conversation.

Brook Farm was a great outlet for these people to express their ideas and

communicate with people who share those same beliefs without the fear of

persecution by people that did not understand. The transcendentalist movement

can and often is compared to another famous movement in American history, the

?hippie? movement of the sixties. In many ways the ?hippies?? movement

paralleled the transcendentalists?, and the ?hippies? even form their own

little communities, like Brook Farm, called communes. Both of these movements

were important to help shape thinking, writing, and social ideals. The

transcendentalist movement brings to the table an increased awareness of the

world around oneself, with and a commitment to the spiritual aspects therein,

and the ?hippie? movement in the sixties gives Americans an increased

awareness of their fellow man, with and emphasis on freedom and love. The

transcendentalist movement has many good aspects to it that if applied today,

could still teach everyone a few things about themselves and their lives. Plato,

Emerson, Thoreau, and many others really did have a level of intelligence that

transcended their contemporaries and the generations and generations after them.