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Transcendentalism, Emerson, and Thoreau

Joe Belknap

on 19 May 2016

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Transcript of Transcendentalism


Transcendental Thought:
The Big 5
5. Nature
Ralph Waldo Emerson
How To Be Alone
4. Confidence
2. Self-reliance
3. Free Thought
1. Nonconformity:
Philosophical movement developed in the 1830s and 1840s as a protest to the general state of culture and society.

Includes the belief that society and institutions (school, church, political parties) corrupt the purity of the individual.
How does one behave as a transcendentalist?
Beliefs continued...
Background and
Intuition is our ability to know things through our emotions rather than reason.

Intuition is an important tool for discovering knowledge and truth.

People should work towards self-improvement and human perfectibility.
Don't conform to society just to "fit in."
Society corrupts a person's inner goodwill.
Examples: slavery, oppressive religions
and leaders, lack of women's rights, etc.
A person in tune with nature, spirituality,
and individuality can teach themselves.

Your intuition and individualism outweighs
outside authority and blind conformity to
custom and tradition.

Do things on your own. Learn from these experiences.
Think for yourself! Free thought
inspires actions based on an
individual's values, not the
values of society.
Follow through on free thought.
Remain true to your values.
Act on them. Advocate for them.
Be a social activist!
Nature is sacred.

The physical facts of the natural world are a doorway to the spiritual or ideal world.

Seek solitude in nature (the best way to escape society). Taking time to experience nature can lead to enlightenment.
Advocate for abolition, nature, harmony, and intellect

Known as the "Father of Transcendental Literature"
Exhilarated by nature's beauty and
tranquility, Emerson felt he was in
tune with his better self, in
harmony with eternal things.
Get into small groups (no more than 3).

Identify the Big 5 Transcendental Thoughts throughout the poem "How to be Alone." Do this by annotating the poem.

Be able to justify your choices!
Complete questions
1-4 of Nature in
small groups.

The Transcendental Challenge: Disconnect
Complete questions for
Emerson's "Nature" in
small groups.
Read pages 216-217 in
the Comm. 3 text book.

Record a minimum of 6
and a maximum of 8
important things
about Emerson that reveal
WHO Emerson is.
read and annotate "Self-Reliance"

complete all questions
Aphorism: Quotable, memorable sayings; short statements that express wise or clever observations about life.

ex: "Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get." - Forrest Gump

ex: "Nothing can bring peace but yourself. Nothing can bring peace but the triumph of principles."
- Emerson
Maxim: A statement that gives behavioral advice rather than simply expressing wise or clever sayings about life.
ex: Never trust a man who says,
"Trust me."
Entire life was a
deliberate effort to live precisely
the way he wanted; while the world lived by one definition of success, Thoreau lived by a different one.

Believed in
civil disobedience
– peacefully resisting immoral laws in protest.

From 1845-1847 lived near Walden Pond in a small cabin he built himself. Result of this stay is the book

Henry David
Thoreau (1817-1862)
Full transcript