The adherents to Transcendentalism believed that knowledge could be arrived at not just through the senses, but through intuition and contemplation of the internal spirit.
Origins and Character What we now know as transcendentalism first arose among the liberal New England Congregationalists, who departed from orthodox Calvinism in two respects: Most of the Unitarians held that Jesus was in some way inferior to God the Father but still greater than human beings; a few followed the English Unitarian Joseph Priestley — in holding that Jesus was thoroughly human, although endowed with special authority.
The Unitarians' leading preacher, William Ellery Channing —portrayed orthodox Congregationalism as a religion of fear, and maintained that Jesus saved human beings from sin, not just from punishment. It was precisely on this ground, however, that the transcendentalists found fault with Unitarianism.
For although they admired Channing's idea that human beings can become more like God, they were persuaded by Hume that no empirical proof of religion could be satisfactory. In letters written in his freshman year at HarvardEmerson tried out Hume's skeptical arguments on his devout and respected Aunt Mary Moody Emerson, and in his journals of the early 's he discusses with approval Hume's Dialogues on Natural Religion and his underlying critique of necessary connection.
Skepticism about religion was also engendered by the publication of an English translation of F. Lukewhich introduced the idea that the Bible was a product of human history and culture. Equally important was the publication in —some fifty years after its initial appearance in Germany—of James Marsh's translation of Johann Gottfried von Herder's Spirit of Hebrew Poetry Herder blurred the lines between religious texts and humanly-produced poetry, casting doubt on the authority of the Bible, but also suggesting that texts with equal authority could still be written.
It was against this background that Emerson asked inin the first paragraph of Nature: An important source for the transcendentalists' knowledge of German philosophy was Frederic Henry Hedge — Hedge's father Levi Hedge, a Harvard professor of logic, sent him to preparatory school in Germany at the age of thirteen, after which he attended the Harvard Divinity School.
In particular, he explains Kant's idea of a Copernican Revolution in philosophy: Hedge organized what eventually became known as the Transcendental Club, by suggesting to Emerson in that they form a discussion group for disaffected young Unitarian clergy.
Hedge was a vocal opponent of slavery in the 's and a champion of women's rights in the 's, but he remained a Unitarian minister, and became a professor at the Harvard Divinity School.
She finds an attractive contrast in the German tradition that begins with Leibniz and culminates in Kant, which asserts the power and authority of the mind.
James Marsh —a graduate of Andover and the president of the University of Vermont, was equally important for the emerging philosophy of transcendentalism. Marsh was convinced that German philosophy held the key to a reformed theology. His American edition of Coleridge's Aids to Reflection introduced Coleridge's version—much indebted to Schelling—of Kantian terminology, terminology that runs throughout Emerson's early work.
In Nature, for example, Emerson writes: German philosophy and literature was also championed by Thomas Carlyle, whom Emerson met on his first trip to Europe in Piety towards nature was also a main theme of William Wordsworth, whose poetry was in vogue in America in the s.
Wordsworth's depiction of an active and powerful mind cohered with the shaping power of the mind that his collaborator in the Lyrical Ballads, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, traced to Kant. I am nothing; I see all; The currents of the universal being circulate through me. Emerson rejects the Unitarian argument that miracles prove the truth of Christianity, not simply because the evidence is weak, but because proof of the sort they envision embodies a mistaken view of the nature of religion: An earlier transcendentalist scandal surrounded the publication of Amos Bronson Alcott's Conversations with Children Upon the Gospels He found anticipations of his views about a priori knowledge in the writings of Plato and Kant, and support in Coleridge's Aids to Reflection for the idea that idealism and materiality could be reconciled.Transcendentalism is a school of philosophical thought that developed in 19th century America.
Important trancendentalist thinkers include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau.
The transcendentalists supported women's rights and the abolition of slavery, and were critical of organized religion and government. During the midth century, Transcendentalist writers had a strong influence over the formation of "utopian communities," since there were many prominent ideas of forward social change/5(20).
Introduction. Transcendentalism was a religious, literary, and political movement that evolved from New England Unitarianism in the s and s. a. literary, artistic, and philosophical movement (flourished late 18th and early 19th cent.) b.
reaction against the Enlightenment: neo-classicism, mechanism, .
Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other important transcendentalists were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, and Theodore Parker.
American Philosophy. The term “American Philosophy,” perhaps surprisingly, has been somewhat vague. While it has tended to primarily include philosophical work done by Americans within the geographical confines of the United States, this has not been exclusively the case.