Sunteți pe pagina 1din 6

TRANSCENDENTALISM is a very formal word that describes a very

simple idea. People, men and women equally, have knowledge about
themselves and the world around them that "transcends" or goes beyond
what they can see, hear, taste, touch or feel.
This knowledge comes through intuition and imagination not through logic
or the senses. People can trust themselves to be their own authority on what
is right. A TRANSCENDENTALIST is a person who accepts these ideas
not as religious beliefs but as a way of understanding life relationships.
TRANSCENDENTALISM goes against the puritan beliefs even though it
derives from it.
Transcendentalists were some of the first known non-conformists in
America, and thus they critiqued contemporary society for its unthinking
conformity.
Transcendentalism, as a whole, centered on the writings and teachings of
American author Ralph Waldo Emerson. Through his writing, Emerson
urged everyone to find his own 'original relation to the universe.'
There are numerous values transcendentalists believed in, however they can
all be condensed into three basic, essential values: individualism, idealism,
and the divinity of nature.
For the transcendentalists, the soul of each individual is identical with the
soul of the world and contains what the world contains.
In "Nature", Emerson lays out and attempts to solve an abstract problem:
that humans do not fully accept and understand natures beauty. He writes
that people are distracted by the demands of the society, whereas nature
gives but humans fail to reciprocate. In the essay Emerson explains that to
experience the wholeness with nature for which we are naturally suited,
we must be separate from the flaws and distractions imposed on us by
society.
The essay consists of eight sections: Nature, Commodity, Beauty, Language,
Discipline, Idealism, Spirit and Prospects. Each section takes a different
perspective on the relationship between humans and nature. Emerson defines
a spiritual relationship. In nature a person finds its spirit and accepts it as the
Universal Being.

Nature
1.Nature: it is an experience of solitude. He notes that when one wants to be
alone, one can look at the stars because they inspire a feeling of respect,
because they remain inaccessible. All the objects in nature entail such an
impression of wisdom, happiness and simplicity.
2. Commodity: Nature is perfectly fitted for human beings. Emerson seems
to have an idyllic vision of nature as something which is alive and surrounds
men and which is at their service. However, his vision does not reject
industry as being in contradiction with nature: for him, both are
complementary.
3. Beauty: he divides the latter into three elements: first, beauty as a
pleasure in perceiving natural forms, as a relief for men. Then, beauty as
"the mark God sets upon virtue". Concerning this aspect, he provides a
really romantic explanation of the phenomenon, when he says, for instance,
that he sees beauty and virtue.
4.Language: for Emerson, "Language is a third use which Nature subserves
to man". First, he notes that words are signs of natural facts. For instance,
"Right means straight; wrong means twisted. Spirit primarily means wind;
transgression, the crossing of a line". Then, he realizes the existence of a
universal symbolism, when he says: "Every natural fact is a symbol of some
spiritual fact".
5. Discipline: Every material event is a lesson which the soul has to take as a
spiritual lesson. Discipline can be defined as a capacity to make one's
actions dependent on some key principles.
6. Idealism: Emerson is opposed to a Christian vision of nature. In Genesis,
after the fall of Adam and Eve from Eden, God says "cursed is the ground
because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and
thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field".
Adam will have to work to harvest the fruits of the soil. On the contrary,
Emerson does not consider nature as miserly or cursed, but in the service of
man.
7. Spirit: The essential for man is to recognize the Spirit in nature.
8. Prospects: Emerson concludes his essay by offering to build man's
spirituality by a new vision of nature.
Paragrapghs:
1. Nature: it is an experience of solitude. He first notes that when one wants
to be alone, one can look at the stars because they inspire a feeling of

respect, because they remain inaccessible. All the objects in nature entail
such an impression of wisdom, happiness and simplicity. Importance of this
link between man and nature. This power of ecstasy is not due only to
nature, but to the human, to the harmony between the two. In fact, on contact
with nature, we become an integral part of God.
Finally, Emerson adds that we have to use the pleasure of nature with some
moderation because "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit".
2. Emerson seems to have an idyllic vision of nature as something which is
alive and surrounds men and which is at their service. However, his vision
does not reject industry as being in contradiction with nature: for him, both
are complementary.
3. He divides the latter into three elements: first, beauty as a pleasure in
perceiving natural forms, as a relief for men. To conclude, he considers
beauty as an object of the intellect, saying for instance that "The production
of a work of art throws a light upon the mystery of humanity".
4. Discipline: Every material event is a lesson which the soul has to take as a
spiritual lesson. Discipline can be defined as a capacity to make one's
actions dependent on some key principles. Whereas the Ancients considered
man as one element among others in the Cosmos, Emerson is also heir to the
galileo-cartesian revolution in which man stopped considering himself as an
element like any other in nature, but as the master and owner of it
(Descartes). Like Bacon, Emerson thinks that we have to question nature to
make it confess its secrets.
Nature (wilderness) seen by puritans:
nature and the wilderness, which represented the dark evil in human
life, became the transplanted Puritans enemy.- dark forest out of
which the Puritans have carved something like a frontier town.
sinful nature
the devil Indians
magic/mystic place

darkness
Unknowed
"unchristianized, lawless region." scarlet
deceptive
Knowledge of nature
Discouraged
The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Rip Van Winkle - Washington Irving
VS: Analogy to life: nature is to be studied and contemplated. Proves
God exists, gives men a sense of their place.
Self-Reliance
The need for each individual to avoid conformity and false
consistency, and follow his or her own instincts and ideas. That the
mind is initially subject to an unhappy conformism.
Individual Authority: Emerson mentions that citizens control the
government so they have control. He also mentions how nothing has
authority over the self. He says, History cannot bring enlightenment; only
individual searching can. He believes that truth is inside a person and this
is authority, not institutions like religion.
Nonconformity: Emerson states, "Whoso would be a man must be a
nonconformist." He wants people to do what they think is right no matter
what others think.
Solitude and the Community: Emerson wrote how the community is a
distraction to self-growth, by friendly visits, and family needs. He advocates
more time being spent reflecting on ones self. This can also happen in the
community by a strong self-confidence. This would help not sway from his
beliefs in groups of people.

Spirituality: Truth is within ones self. Emerson posits that reliance upon
institutionalized religion hinders the ability to grow mentally as an
individual.

Throughout the essay he gives a defense for his famous catch-phrase


"Trust thyself".
This argument follows three major points: the self-contained genius,
the disapproval of the world, and the value of self-worth.
1. Inside of each person is genius. He writes: "To believe your own
thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart
is true for all men, that is genius." e says that only a man who is
self-reliant will be successful and any outside influences would
take away from personal satisfaction. Emerson claims that
examples of people who trusted themselves above all else
include Moses, Plato, and John Milton. He then goes on to
highlight the value of individual expression.
2. Emerson says that a man cannot bluntly obey society if he wants
to follow his own expression. No government or church can
explain a mans heart to him, and so each individual must resist
institutional authority. Emerson continues by decrying the
effects that society has upon the individual. He says that when
people are influenced by society, they will compromise their values
in order to retain a foolish character to the world.
3. Emerson says one should not overly admire a great person from
the past. Emerson states that "man is timid and apologetic; he is
no longer upright; he dares not say 'I think,' 'I am,' but quotes
some saint or sage." He states that historically great men are not
any more important than the present men, but they serve as
examples of how to trust oneself. Individuals should speak their
ideas instead of quoting the words of historical people because it
will not help one understand his own inspiration. Emerson
describes a self-reliant man as someone who is not afraid to speak

his mind and truth to anyone, resilient, optimistic, quick-thinking,


and changes himself when he is inspired by himself.

Emerson argues against conformity with the world. He


argues how people should not conform to what other people
in society think, but instead he should transform society
with his thoughts. To follow Emerson's self-reliant credo
fully, one must learn to hear and obey what is most true
within one's heart, and both think and act independent of
popular opinion and social pressure, in order to bring
satisfaction to ones self.