Transcendentalism, due to its radical nature, affected the society of the 1840's and 50's in many ways. Despite being centered in the small New England area, transcendentalism "ushered in a period of unprecedented debate and reform" (NetEssays.net). Through experiments in transcendentalism that attempted to prove the worth of Emerson and Thoreau's theories of "transformed living and economic organization" (Internet, www.orst.eduÃ¢ÂÂ¦), the Brook Farm utopian community was founded. Brook Farm, along with Thoreau's stay at Walden Pond, was one of the first alternate-lifestyle communities, similar to hippie communes in the 1960's. Also, the involvement of transcendentalists in the pre-civil war efforts to abolish slavery spawned some of the most inspired arguments, including Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience." The liberal ideas espoused by transcendentalists embodied the spirit of reform that occurred nationally more than fifty years later.
In more recent times, the transcendentalist banner has been taken up my many factions.
Hippies in the 1960's and 70's may have been the truest expression of Emerson's beliefs. Focused on self-enlightenment and community living without the hindrances of modern society that block the appreciation of nature, hippie communes all over the United States attempted to reach "nirvana," and did this by following principles set forth in the works of transcendentalists. Strange it is that a century had to unfold before transcendentalism would flourish, which shows how far ahead of their times Emerson and Thoreau were. Indeed, Emerson's works have such an impact in modern times because he "unites serenity and practicality, God and science, in a manner highly suggestive for those attempting to solve twentieth century dilemmas which have seemed most desperately urgent" (Bradley, Beatty, Long, 1061) Transcendentalism, a practice which evolved and perished during a very brief period, has had far-reaching moral implications which have spoken to many people the world over. After reading Emerson's Nature thoroughly, one is amazed at the sensibility of his proposals and their applicability to modern life. Emerson has even moved me towards living a more moral life. Transcendentalism truly has affected American society throughout the ages.
Works Cited Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature.
Published 1836 Thoreau, Henry David. Walden.
Published 1854 Bradley, Beatty, and Long. The American Tradition in Literature (third edition)Volume1 W. W. Norton & Co., 1967 "Transcendentalism and the Utopian Mentality" Online. Available http://www.orst.edu/Dept/philosophy/club/utopia/utopian-visions/robinson-lec.html 1997