An essay that compares trancendentalist ideas in various early American writers. 780 words.

Essay by cheatermikeHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 2004

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

Downloaded 63 times

The transcendentalist mindset has been around since the Puritans, but it took men such as Emerson and Thoreau to popularize the concepts and beliefs of this idea. The core of transcendentalism is that it is " a philosophy that rejects the idea that knowledge can be fully derived from experience and observation; rather, truth resides in the spiritual world." In this essay, I hope to identify and explain the similarities and differences between the "optimistic" transcendentalists and the "darker" writers of the time period.

Emerson was the writer that most strongly influenced the philosophy of transcendentalism. In 1836 he expressed one of transcendentalism's main principles; the "mystical unity of nature" in his essay, "Nature". In "Self-reliance", he stated the need for non-conformity, a concept that still is a big issue in schools all across the world. The former Unitarian minister enlightened us on the subject of conformity and education to the point that we can identify two distinct paths to take in our life.

Henry David Thoreau pushed the philosophy of transcendentalism even farther with "Walden". He was a good example of a non-conformist, because even at a young age, he was defying the will of organizations such as the church by wearing a green coat instead of a black to mass. He was the author of the speech "Resistance to Civil Government" which was later written as an essay. This was one of the most influential essays of the all time, and was important to Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Both of these writers believed that knowledge could be acquired from the spiritual world, as well as the natural. They contributed to the way transcendentalism evolved and endured throughout the past one hundred years and have set the stage for modern writers, as well as revolutionary men and...