New Thought

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New Thought,

popular philosophical movement with religious implications; it affirms "the creative power of constructive thinking." A successor of New England transcendentalismtranscendentalism
[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
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, New Thought grew out of the healing practices of P. P. Quimby and the "mental science" of W. F. Evans, a Swedenborgian minister. From its initial emphasis on the healing of disease it developed into an intensely individualistic and optimistic philosophy of life and conduct. The name was adopted in the 1890s to indicate this broader interest. Annual national conventions were held from 1894, and in 1914 the International New Thought Alliance was formed, with branches in England, Australia, and elsewhere. Composed of many smaller groups, such as Divine Science, UnityUnity,
religious movement incorporated as the Unity School of Christianity, with headquarters at Lee's Summit, Mo. Although the movement used the name Unity after 1891, it was founded earlier by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore as a spiritual healing movement, with affinity to
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 (until 1922), and Home of Truth, the alliance is held together by one central teaching, namely, that people through the constructive use of their minds can attain freedom, power, health, prosperity, and all good, molding their bodies as well as the circumstances of their lives. The doctrine was widely popularized by such writers as O. S. Marden and Ralph Waldo Trine, especially in the latter's In Tune with the Infinite (1897). Beyond this unifying principle of the constructive power of the mind and the prevailing optimism of the movement, there are a great variety of diverse and often mutually contradictory ideas in New Thought. Individual New Thought leaders have employed concepts from every variety of idealistic, spiritualistic, pantheistic, kabbalistic, and theosophical thought, as well as from Christianity. There are also frequent overtones of the mystical and occult in New Thought literature.


See H. W. Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement (1919); C. S. Braden, Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought (1963); M. A. Larson, New Thought or a Modern Religious Approach (1985).

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References in classic literature ?
Adam needed the calm influence; he was amazed at the way in which this new thought of Dinah's love had taken possession of him, with an overmastering power that made all other feelings give way before the impetuous desire to know that the thought was true.
No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light of new thoughts. People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.
Therefore we love the poet, the inventor, who in any form, whether in an ode or in an action or in looks and behavior has yielded us a new thought. He unlocks our chains and admits us to a new scene.
The poet did not stop at the color or the form, but read their meaning; neither may he rest in this meaning, but he makes the same objects exponents of his new thought. Here is the difference betwixt the poet and the mystic, that the last nails a symbol to one sense, which was a true sense for a moment, but soon becomes old and false.
For the plan grows under the author's hand; new thoughts occur to him in the act of writing; he has not worked out the argument to the end before he begins.
Then the general's fine grey horse dragged that worthy home, with some new thoughts, and some new hopes and calculations developing in his brain, and with the pearls in his pocket, for he had not forgotten to bring them along with him, being a man of business.
Thompson was buried on the Tuesday, and the burial service, so soothing and grand always, but beyond all words solemn when read over a boy's grave to his companions, brought him much comfort, and many strange new thoughts and longings.
This put new thoughts into my head; for I presently imagined that these might be the men belonging to the ship that was cast away in the sight of my island, as I now called it; and who, after the ship was struck on the rock, and they saw her inevitably lost, had saved themselves in their boat, and were landed upon that wild shore among the savages.
While my jealousy of him lasted, you may be sure I was every day pumping him to see if he would discover any of the new thoughts which I suspected were in him; but I found everything he said was so honest and so innocent, that I could find nothing to nourish my suspicion; and in spite of all my uneasiness, he made me at last entirely his own again; nor did he in the least perceive that I was uneasy, and therefore I could not suspect him of deceit.
For a half hour he stayed in the alleyway, smelling the strong smell of animals too closely housed and letting his mind play with the strange new thoughts that came to him.
Mitch Horowitz, a writer on alternative spirituality and a New Thought believer, explores the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, Neville Goddard, and others, together with current findings in physics and his personal experiences, to create a convincing argument that mind power, correctly used, really does work.
Since you cannot give to another something you do not now have, your mind comes to a new conclusion, a New Thought, about you-namely, that you must have this, or you could not be giving it away.