Ralph Waldo Emerson as a Father of Transcendentalism

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How is Transcendentalism still relevant? Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820’s in Eastern United States. It resembled British Romanticism. Transcendentalism is a reaction to rationalism and intellectualism. Transcendentalism was about a simple life, and enjoying nature. One of the most influential writers to begin this movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was considered the father of transcendentalism, a great writer, and had a huge influence to this day on self-sufficiency.

According to Emerson, what is beyond nature is revealed through nature; nature is itself a symbol, or and indication of a deeper reality. “Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson was born May 25, 1803 and came to be known as the father of transcendentalism. The driving force that made him question his religion was his wife’s death in the early 1830’s. He was a minister, but abandoned his church after she died. He left the country and traveled to Europe. He met two very important that had a huge influence on his philosophy.

These were men were Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He soon moved back, remarried and began his career as a lecturer and essayist. Emerson was the one to spread the philosophy of transcendentalism. Emerson’s first high-profile work was “Nature”, a collection of essays published in 1836 that inspired the movement of Transcendentalism. In this book he expressed his ideas and thoughts. He sought to change America’s point of view with there relationship with nature.

Nature was probably one of Emerson’s most famous books. He had the very unconventional view that reality is deprived from intuition, and the senses. He had many supporters and a few are, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau. These people basically worshipped him as a fountain of inspiration. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a great writer. Another one of Emerson’s famous works are Essays, First and Second Series (1841-1844).

The first-series included his famous essay “Self-Reliance”, where he tells and instructs the reader to examine their relationship with Nature and God. He tells the listener to listen to their own judgement and to trust it. Ralph Waldo Emerson became the most widely known man of letters in America. The “American Scholar” was another one of his well known works. In here Emerson states that Americans were “people too busy to give to letters anymore”. He also wrote that “Books are for the scholar’s idle times”.

This surprised the crowd. He also argues against book knowledge completely and more in favor of lived experience. “Only so much do I know, as I have lived.” He told his reader that nature was the most important influence on the mind, and it is the same mind, one mind, that writes and reads. Emerson predicts that through this approach “A nation of men will for the first time exist.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes that being self-sufficient gives a person the freedom to discover one’s true self and attain true independence. He urges readers to follow their own will instead of doing or conforming to social expectations. Emerson encourages his readers to be honest in their relationships with other people and with each other. He emphasizes following your own voice, rather than following others, such as a church. He goes by all of these things: altering religious practices, encouraging and telling Americans to stay at home and to develop their own culture, and to focus on individual rather than societal progress. He really wants people to become more independent and self-sufficient. He doesn’t want people relying on other people or following the ways of everybody else.

Conformity, according to Emerson, is death to an individual. Hope and Optimism is the essence of self-reliance. Emerson also tells his readers to avoid debt, since debt will rob them of opportunities and self-confidence. Being self-sufficient and self-reliant, was thought by Emerson, to be the foundation of a productive, efficient, and self sustaining society. In conclusion transcendentalism still plays a role in the world today.

Transcendentalism was about having a simple life and nature. It was much like British Romanticism. Transcendentalism also included being self-sufficient and independent. Being a Transcendentalist meant not going with the crowd and having a very simplistic life. One of the most influential writers to begin this movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was considered the father of transcendentalism, a great writer, and had a huge influence to this day on self-sufficiency.


Cite this paper

Ralph Waldo Emerson as a Father of Transcendentalism. (2021, Mar 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/ralph-waldo-emerson-as-a-father-of-transcendentalism/



How did Ralph Waldo Emerson become a transcendentalism?
Ralph Waldo Emerson became a transcendentalist through his study of German philosophy and his own personal experiences with nature and individualism. He also became a leader in the movement through his lectures and writings, including his famous essay Nature.
Who is considered the father of transcendentalism?
The father of transcendentalism is considered to be Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a leading figure in the movement and his work was very influential.
Why is Ralph Waldo Emerson known as the father of transcendentalism?
Ralph Waldo Emerson is known as the father of transcendentalism because he was the first major figure in the movement and he wrote the essay "Nature" which outlined many of the movement's key ideas.
Why was Ralph Waldo Emerson important to transcendentalism?
On May 25, 1803, American essayist, lecturer, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was born, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society .
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