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Posted by joao on January 13, 2002 at 23:07:21:

What’s Transcendentalism? And Why?

American Transcendentalism was a new way of thinking and relating to the world, which rose in the 1800’s. This philosophy went against the ideals and rules of society. Transcendentalists followed their own instincts and did not conform to what society says. They believed the only way we can find the absolute truth would be searching by ourselves. This attitude was very optimistic because transcendentalists believed they could find answers to whatever they were seeking with the help of reasoning. They also believe that society will always try to make an individual accept traditional ideas but it is important to remain true to yourself. A major part of transcendentalism was to consider the individual more important than society.
The reason American Transcendentalism came about was because people were unhappy with the status quota. Alexis Carrel once said, “The first duty of society is to give each of its members the possibility of fulfilling his destiny. When it becomes incapable of performing this duty it must be transformed." The puritan religion was not giving its members the possibility of fulfilling their destiny. This is the reason they needed a revolution with new ideals. This new philosophy was a shock to puritans because their whole religion was based on the idea of community and they believed that the individual should sacrifice himself for the community. Two hundred years later, we can see the ideals of individualism are stronger than ever in our society.

Quote from “Self-Reliance”

At the very end of “Self-Reliance”, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” Emerson is saying that peace comes from within. A person who's happy with himself can be content with whatever life has to offer: difficulties, rewards, surprises, grief, or joy. The person can accept the results, not with disappointment or happiness, but with calm and appreciation. The person can view the actions of their enemy not with hatred, but with compassion. If a person is happy with himself, he'll be content with outside events, whatever they may be.
During the last 4 months this country is being going through a difficult time. We experience everything but peace. I question Emerson during circumstances like theses. Can we view the actions of the terrorists with compassion? While watching those horrible images on television of the World Trade Center collapsing, my heart with filled with hatred. If peace comes from within, then destruction of peace must come from outside. The terrorists were able to destroy our tranquility, but it’s time for each of us to find joy within ourselves and if Emerson is right, peace will be reinstate.

Morning Person?

Just like Henry David Thoreau, who wrote at the beginning of “Walden”, “Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity…” I’m a morning person. I don’t even know why a have an alarm clock, I’ve never used that thing. I always set the alarm for 7:00AM during the week, but I’m always up an hour before that. But I don’t get out of bed right away. I like to stay for a few minutes, just thinking. My room is in basement; as a result I only have a small window to look outside. During the winter, at six o’clock it still dark outside, but when the spring comes it seems that sun’s rays are meant to wake me up. My house is very peaceful at six in the morning. My parents and my sisters are asleep; I get a feeling of freedom. I think I’m only one up in the entire world.


American Transcendentalism Web. Virginia Commonwealth University. January 13, 2002. .

Self-Reliance. Mississippi State University. January 13, 2002. .

The American Renaissance and Transcendentalism. PBS. January 13, 2002. .

The Emergence of Transcendentalism. University of Virginia. January 13, 2002. .

Walden Study. Virginia Commonwealth University. January 13, 2002. .

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