transcendentalism

(redirected from American Transcendentalism)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

transcendentalism

, American literary and philosophical movement

transcendentalism (trănˌsĕndĕnˈtəlĭzəm) [Lat.,=overpassing], in literature, philosophical and literary movement that flourished in New England from about 1836 to 1860. It originated among a small group of intellectuals who were reacting against the orthodoxy of Calvinism and the rationalism of the Unitarian Church, developing instead their own faith centering on the divinity of humanity and the natural world. Transcendentalism derived some of its basic idealistic concepts from romantic German philosophy, notably that of Immanuel Kant, and from such English authors as Carlyle, Coleridge, and Wordsworth. Its mystical aspects were partly influenced by Indian and Chinese religious teachings. Although transcendentalism was never a rigorously systematic philosophy, it had some basic tenets that were generally shared by its adherents. The beliefs that God is immanent in each person and in nature and that individual intuition is the highest source of knowledge led to an optimistic emphasis on individualism, self-reliance, and rejection of traditional authority.

The ideas of transcendentalism were most eloquently expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in such essays as “Nature” (1836), “Self-Reliance,” and “The Over-Soul” (both 1841), and by Henry David Thoreau in his book Walden (1854). The movement began with the occasional meetings of a group of friends in Boston and Concord to discuss philosophy, literature, and religion. Originally calling themselves the Hedge Club (after one of the members), they were later dubbed the Transcendental Club by outsiders because of their discussion of Kant's “transcendental” ideas. Besides Emerson and Thoreau, its most famous members, the club included F. H. Hedge, George Ripley, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Theodore Parker, and others. For several years much of their writing was published in The Dial (1840–44), a journal edited by Fuller and Emerson. The cooperative community Brook Farm (1841–47) grew out of their ideas on social reform, which also found expression in their many individual actions against slavery. Primarily a movement seeking a new spiritual and intellectual vitality, transcendentalism had a great impact on American literature, not only on the writings of the group's members, but on such diverse authors as Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman.

Bibliography

See anthologies ed. by G. W. Cooke (1903, repr. 1971) and P. Miller (1950; 1957, repr. 1981); O. B. Frothingham, Transcendentalism in New England (1876, repr. 1972); J. Porte, Emerson and Thoreau (1966); M. Simon and T. H. Parsons, ed., Transcendentalism and Its Legacy (1966); L. Buell, Literary Transcendentalism (1973).


transcendentalism

, in philosophy
transcendentalism, in philosophy, term descriptive of systems that hold that there are modes of being and principles of existence beyond the reach of mundane experience and manipulation. The term is now closely associated with Kantian theory, although some conception of transcendent being has been common to most forms of philosophical idealism. Kant argues that perception of sense data depends on a priori intuitions, which include conception of space and time and categories of judgment. For Kant, “transcendental” refers to conditions necessary for the possibility of experience, while “transcendent” refers to a noumenon, something unknowable and beyond the realm of possible experience.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

transcendentalism

1. 
a. any system of philosophy, esp that of Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher (1724--1804), holding that the key to knowledge of the nature of reality lies in the critical examination of the processes of reason on which depends the nature of experience
b. any system of philosophy, esp that of Emerson, that emphasizes intuition as a means to knowledge or the importance of the search for the divine
2. vague philosophical speculation
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
American transcendentalism carries a rich philosophical foundation, the product of a variety of beliefs, social issues, and philosophies (Koster, 1975).
If all this sounds like a hokey rip-off of the sublime harmonic convergences of American Transcendentalism, that's because it is.
Irving Lowens, "Writings about Music in the Periodicals of American Transcendentalism (1835-50)," Journal of the American Musicological Society 10 (1957): 71-85; republished with slight changes as "Music and American Transcendentalism (1835-50)" and "A Check-List of Writings about Music in the Periodicals of American Transcendentalism (1835-50)" in his Music and Musicians in Early America (New York: W.
Mueller, The American Symphony Orchestra: a Social History of Musical Taste (Bloomington, 1951); `Music and American Transcendentalism (1835-1850)' and a 183-item `Check-List', in Lowens, Music and Musicians in Early America (pp.
In this tradition, American transcendentalism has its roots in America's own religious past - not in German or English or Scottish philosophy.
Emerson's Nature (1836) was the first significant statement of American transcendentalism. The beginning of his lecture "The Transcendentalist" (1842) summed up his position at that time: "What is popularly called Transcendentalism among us, is Idealism; Idealism as it appears in 1842.
But estimating American Transcendentalism from the point of view of a European, he showed a lack of penetration:
AMERICAN TRANSCENDENTALISM | PHILIP GURA: The 19th-century transcendentalists--Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Orestes Brownson, George Ripley, Theodore Parker, and others--influenced wide-ranging thought and social reform in America.
One may compare (though many comparisons could be made) the 'Coleridge" that emerges through the eyes of Hare, Maurice, and Jowett with the "Coleridge" whose writings served as the basis for much of what came to be known as American Transcendentalism. The quandary is unavoidable, but pitfalls abound.
By then, Sandler says, he had embraced American Transcendentalism. Golden Dawn's evocation of the infinite is one with this version of the sublime, embraced by Abstract Expressionism.
Walden is of course a key text for the study of American literature in the 1850s (the decade of Matthiessen's American Renaissance), for the study of American Transcendentalism, and for the study of nineteenth-century American literature and culture generally.
In an interesting but problematic attempt to situate Kennedy's work in a 19th-century tradition of American transcendentalism, a 20th-century tradition of the theater of the absurd, and a feminist tradition of black women's autobiographical writings which includes work by Toni Morrison and Paule Marshall, co-editor Paul Bryant-Jackson examines a sampling of female "protagonists" extracted from early works such as The Owl Answers and A Rat's Mass, as well as the recent work She Talks to Beethoven (1987).

Full browser ?