transcendentalism


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

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 ?
In approachable and accessible prose, Andrews demonstrates how Transcendentalism's main thinkers, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and others, pursued rich and rewarding spiritual lives that inspired them to fight for abolition, women's rights, and education reform.
I find the literary history interesting, but am most impacted by the contemporary expressions of art related to transcendentalism. Outside the Old Manse (Ralph Waldo Emerson's grandfather's house, when he was a minister in the late 1700s and later a gathering place for writers, philosophers, and social reformers in the 19th century), I view a captivating piece of theater.
Chapter 1.1 is Phyllis Cole's "A Legacy of Revolt, 1803-1821," a condensed version of her comprehensive Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism (1998).
He explores the relationship between the legacy of Van Wyck Brooks's "usable past" and the return of transcendentalism to fashion in the work of Lewis Mumford.
At one high level, both of these movements can be said to have been motivated by an "insistence upon personal freedom and spiritual reform" (Buell, Literary Transcendentalism 8), linking them across time from the founding period of American aesthetics, ethics and politics (led by 18th and early 19th-century Puritan leaders and the American founding fathers), to the progressive, reform-minded politics and morality, with dashes of emergent modernism, of America in the early twentieth century.
The two philosophies Transcendentalism and Kashmir Shaivism-also came under discussion with speakers and some audience members opining that the later philosophy was much older than the former.
In the 1990s, works such as Len Gougeon's Virtue's Hero (1990), Phyllis Cole's Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism (1998), and Albert J.
In "'The Great Earth Speaking': Richard Jefferies and the Transcendentalists" Roger Ebbatson explains how the English nature-writer conveyed in his writings American Transcendentalism and English Romanticism in contrast to Victorian notions dominant at the time, such as the concept of progress.
BIOGRAPHY - Matteson won a Pulitzer Prize for his dual biography of Bronson and Louisa May Alcott; here he examines the life of the 19th-century writer and leading figure in New England transcendentalism. (*** May/June 2012)
The artist's work could be seen by some viewers as an ode to transcendentalism, an idea conveyed by the man's right foot stepping into void.
RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA'S FEAR EATS THE SOUL EXHIBITION AT Gavin Brown's Enterprise appears unremarkable but, in its banality, a revolutionary idea unfolds--the recontextualisation of transcendentalism. Institutional critique and relational aesthetics, two main stratagems of the exhibition, are steeped in transcendentalism (a philosophical reaction to rationalism) without being aware that they are.
Transcendentalism for Foucault is therefore much more than a historically determined philosophical option, shared by Kant, the neo-Kantians, and Husserl's phenomenology.