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Transcendentalism and Utopian Society

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Henry Friedman

on 4 June 2014

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Transcript of Transcendentalism and Utopian Society

[Walden] “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Transcendentalist Philosophy
Henry David Thoreau's Twitter
Henry David Thoreau
He lived from 1817 - 1862.
Henry David Thoreau was a 19th century philosopher, naturalist, essayist, educator, and transcendentalist.
He was good friends with fellow Harvard graduate Ralph Waldo Emerson because of their shared liking of purity, originality, and good deeds.
Thoreau formed a school (Concord Academy) to rebel against the opressive educational system and taught not only the traditional courses, but advanced mathematics, physics, natural sciences, and philosophy.
He was an avid social-activist and constantly supported the other reform movements.
: openly spoke out and lectured against slavery; his house was a stopping point for the Underground Railroad
Women's Rights
Education Reform
Labor Union
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Thoreau found that his health was failing.
Managed to travel to Minnesota for an attempt of finding "clean air and better health," but was already infected by the disease that had also killed his brother.
Thoreau died of Tuberculosis on May 6th, 1862
Ralph Waldo Emerson's Facebook Page
Robert Owen's Instagram
Transcendentalism and Utopian Societies
“This whole earth in which we inhabit is but a point is space.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Philosophical, political, economic, and cultural movement in the 1800s
Notable Transcendentalists:
- Henry David Thoreau
- Margaret Fuller
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Robert Owen
- Amos Bronson Alcott
Ideals of rebirth of intellectual and artistic life
Faith and belief that divinity lies within man
Capability to be self-sufficient with "identical souls" as that of the world itself
Transcend to an alternate universe that some interpreted as heaven to achieve communistic unity and equality
Ideas related to spiritual world, associated with material world
Dani, Henry, Lyvia, and Karolina
Henry David Thoreau
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
July 4th, 1845: Thoreau sets out for his planned "Walden" experiment.
He sought to revive a concept of philosophy as a way of life and find the true meaning of nature and Earth. He wanted to transcend his senses and gain a better understanding of life itself.
The plan was to live in the woods for 2 years and bond with nature and God.
The Walden Cabin
May 16, 2014
Social Studies-3

“Science does not know its debt to imagination.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Group Members & Jobs
Reformer Expert Tech Guru
Henry David Thoreau Amos Bronson Alcott

Project Manager Reformer Expert
Robert Owen Ralph Waldo Emerson

Problematic Results
Lectures, newspapers, essays, journals, meetings, and protests
Withdrawal from society in with members in states of "distraction" and "imbecility"
Refusal and shunning towards use of modernizing technology and urbanization
Strong leadership, personalities, and reputations
Father George Rapp (German religious leader)
Lived from 1803-1882
Emerson was the Sage of Concord and the intellectual center of the American Renaissance
Ordained a Unitarian minister in 1829, but experienced a religious crisis after the death of his wife
Started to formulate the Transcendentalist Faith in 1832 with other men
Creator of "The Transcendental Club" (1836-1860)
Promoted individualism and high potential for everyone
Developed ideals of Transcendentalism
Became a lecturer for Transcendentalism in 1834
Wrote his first major essay in 1836: "Nature"
Became friends with Thoreau, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, the Peabody sisters, the Alcott family, Jonas Very, the Ripleys, and the Channings as they joined the faith
They defined a new national identity for American art
Was a committed abolitionist, champion of the Native Americans, crusader for peace and social justice, supporter of educational reform, and advocate of other creative geniuses
Said Whitman was "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed."

Nature (1836)

The American Scholar (1837)

The Transcendentalist (1841)

Self Reliance (1841)

Ralph Waldo
[Nature] "Nature is the incarnation of thought. The world is the mind precipitated."
[ The American Scholar] "Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier."
[Self Reliance] "Your goodness must have an edge to it,--else it is none."
[The Transcendentalist] "believes in miracle, in the perpetual openness of the human mind to new influx of light and power; he believes in inspiration, and in ecstasy."
Ralph Waldo Emerson cont.
Robert Owen
The Declaration of Mental
Independence (1826)

The New Moral World

"Rational Religion" spread with meetings in "Halls of Science"

Communitarian experiment caused conversation of entire nation
Writings combined passion with purity of prose
The Dial
with Margaret Fuller in 1840
Published Transcendentalist literature
Published "The American Scholar", "The Divinity School Address", and two volumes of Essays
Essays contained "Self-Reliance", "The Poet", "Friendship", and "The Oversoul"
His last two volumes ("Parnassus" and "Letters and Social Aims") were published in his last few years
daughter helped him since his memory was failing
Died on April 27, 1882 from pneumonia
Concord's bell tolled seventy-nine times in honor of all his years
Set to rest on Poets' Knoll in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
[ Declaration of Mental Independence] Man free from "the trinity of evils responsible for all the world's misery and vice: traditional religion, conventional marriage...and private property."
The New Moral World
] "But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."
Henry David
Many joined from successful religious communities made by Rappites and Shakers
Alien materialistic views of the world

1847: Arrested for nonpayment of poll tax
Citizen has no duty to resign conscience to the state

Slavery abolished by people refusing to pay taxes and going to jail, clogging the system

Walden (1845)

"Civil Disobedience" (1849)
[Civil Disobedience]
"I am too high-born to be propertied,
To be a secondary at control,
Or useful serving-man and instrument
To any sovereign state throughout the world."
Why Transcendentalism?
Robert Owen
Jan. 1800
view 1,012 comments
Established a new colony called New Lanark
"You may depend upon it that they are as good hearts to serve men in palaces as in cottages." - Owen

AWESOME colony! Huge

thanks to David Dale for being an amazing partner too! It's people like you who are the true beginning of transcendentalism
Individuality and separation from nation as a whole
Inner-colony issues:
Intended to reproduce children scientifically
All marriages were arranged
Believed children were born just as intelligent as their parents
Objectives in the colonies were not being accomplished
Lack of rules made people not obey their leaders
Tension caused by excessive amount of time together in small areas
Dissatisfaction with policies and actions of United States government/society regarding:
Treatment of the Natives
U.S.-Mexican War
Practice and continuation of slavery
Women's rights
Education reform
Second Great Awakening
Cities to communities
Machine establishment and industrialization
Part of the Labor Union
General population's lack of involvement in issues
Some joined to emphasize their own thinking and "ponder about life" away from the rush of cities
Unitarian people with means, leisure, and training to pursue literature and scholarship
Steady disappearance of
major branch of Protestantism
Treatment of the Natives
"A crime that really deprives us as well as the Cherokees of a country for how could we all call the conspiracy that should crush these poor Indians our government, or that land that was cursed by their parting and dying imprecautions our country, any more?" -Emerson
Abolition & War
"I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slaves' government also."
Opposed immoral legislation which supports slavery and the U.S.-Mexican War
Dani: 5, 9, 17-26, 45-49
Lyvia: 4, 27-34, 41-44
Karolina: 6, 10-16, 36-40
Henry: 2, 3, 7, 8, 35

Utopian Communities
Successful colony led by Father George Rapp (German religious leader)
1,700 families founded community in Beaver County
Referred as Rappites derived from Father George Rapp
Shared economic wealth equally
Self-sufficient with farmers, builders, and mechanics
1814: Crossed western frontier and set up Harmony in Wabash Valley, IN
1824-1825: Sold 30,000 acre community including buildings to Robert Owen for $15,000
Found Wabash Valley unhealthy with unpleasant neighbors
1825: Owen began experiment with factory reform and better living standards on banks of Wabash River
Many people joined due to success with religious communities established by Rappites
"[...] Owenism....was a way of achieving the prosperity, the security, and the peace of a shaker village[...]" (Bestor pg. 113-114)
Splits from religion, agriculture, alcohol, and education
1860s: Commutarian faith shaken
belief that the world goes beyond what you can see, hear, touch or feel
The Walden Experiment
Henry's Sources
Dani's Sources
Lyvia's Sources
Karolina's Sources
Transcendentalists cherished life, nature, self-sufficiency, and simplicity
Opposed oppressive government policies and society
Criticized organized and strict religion, laws, social gatherings, and overwhelming industrialization
Sought to find the true meaning of life and constantly honor Earth
Improvement starts with one's self and individualism
Believed people can trust themselves to be their own authority and establish their own morals
Faith in humanity, individualism, and equality
Imagination was better than reason, creativity was better than theory, and action was better than contemplation
Transcendentalism replaced John Locke's philosophy in America
Amos Bronson Alcott
September 22nd, 1834 Alcott opened his first school, named The Temple School, where he spread his Transcendental ideas to his students

Joined the Transcendentalist Club in their second meeting in 1836

Alcott co-founded the utopian society Fruitlands which was established in the 1840s

He published
in 1877, which was his memoir.
[Table-Talks] “An author who sets his reader on sounding the depths of his own thoughts serves him best.”
[Tablets] “The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence.”
Alcott was a very involved transcendentalist in the Transcendentalist Club. In the club he was with others like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Orestes Brownson,and Theodore Parker.
Alcott and his company in Fruitland's main goal was to regain access to the Garden of Eden by living "perfect lives" in fruitlands.
He would use Facebook because he can share about his life and make people see that it's wonderful.
He would use Twitter to tweet about the upcoming transcendental events.
He would post pictures of his community and events
Full transcript