The Transcendentalist

Overview

Ralph Waldo Emerson's The Transcendentalist is one of the essays he wrote while establishing the doctrine of American Transcendentalism. The lecture was read at the Masonic Temple in Boston, Massachusetts in January 1842.

The work begins by contrasting materialists and idealists. Emerson laments the absence of "old idealists." He goes on to outline the fundamental beliefs and characteristics of the New England Transcendentalists. He discusses the nature of epistemology and the ...

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The Transcendentalist

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Overview

Ralph Waldo Emerson's The Transcendentalist is one of the essays he wrote while establishing the doctrine of American Transcendentalism. The lecture was read at the Masonic Temple in Boston, Massachusetts in January 1842.

The work begins by contrasting materialists and idealists. Emerson laments the absence of "old idealists." He goes on to outline the fundamental beliefs and characteristics of the New England Transcendentalists. He discusses the nature of epistemology and the debate between Locke and Kant on Imperative forms and Transcendental forms, and discusses perception and reality in a blatantly Platonic sense. He says that solitude is a state of being that should be encouraged, for it allows humanity to achieve a higher level of alignment with nature and prevents the contamination that one encounters within a society.

Henry David Thoreau embodied the majority of these characteristics, except for neglecting to take action against the government. Thoreau was a staunch abolitionist; his home was a stop on the underground railroad. He was actively subverting the government, but Emerson admitted that there was no perfect Transcendentalist. Emerson created a perfect, ideal archetype for the Transcendentalist, but also realized that it would be adapted to fit imperfect humans in an imperfect world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 - April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, Nature. Following this ground-breaking work, he gave a speech entitled "The American Scholar" in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. considered to be America's "Intellectual Declaration of Independence"

Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first, then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays - Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series, published respectively in 1841 and 1844 - represent the core of his thinking, and include such well-known essays as Self-Reliance, The Over-Soul, Circles, The Poet and Experience. Together with Nature, these essays made the decade from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson's most fertile period.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781494386641
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 12/5/2013
  • Pages: 30
  • Sales rank: 1,032,591
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.81 (h) x 0.06 (d)

Meet the Author

"Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 - April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, philosopher, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early 19th century.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, Nature. As a result of this ground breaking work he gave a speech entitled The American Scholar in 1837, which is considered to be America's "Intellectual Declaration of Independence." He once said "Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you."

Considered one of the great orators of the time, Emerson's enthusiasm and respect for his audience enraptured crowds. His support for abolitionism late in life created controversy, and he was subject to abuse from crowds while speaking on the topic. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was "the infinitude of the private man."
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