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Transcendentalism 2

Transcendentalism 2

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Transcendentalism
 Transcendentalism developed as a life philosophy and approach to religion in the early
1800’s. It arose from the New England Congregationalists who differed from the orthodox
Calvinism of the times. The Transcendentalists believe in the unity of God rather than in theTrinity of God. Unlike the Calvinists, they who believed the sinful nature of humans was set before birth, they believed in the innocence of childhood as a model for adults. They also believed that the miracles of the Bible were a physical reality, unlike the Rationalists of the time,who only believed that which they could deduce from logic and intelligence. Transcendentalist philosophy drew from the Hindu tradition and other religions. Many prominent authors andthinkers of the time became Transcendentalists, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and the familyof Louisa May Alcott.Transcendentalism is the religious and philosophical culture of people believing both people and nature have greatness inside. Transcendentalists believed that society and itsinstitutions, particularly organized religion and political parties, and ultimately corrupted the purity of the person. They had faith that people are at their best when they truly "self-reliant" andindependent and that it is only from such real individuals that true community could be formed.Although they were few, the Transcendentalists have had a long-lasting effect on America.One of the most famous Transcendentalists was Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was anabolitionist, naturalist, poet, writer, and one of the leading Transcendentalists. He was born in
Concord, Massachusetts as David Henry Thoreau in July 12th, 1817. Thoreau’s parents were
 
2John Thoreau (a pencil maker) and Cynthia Dunbar. He had two older siblings, Helen and JohnJr., and a younger sister, Sophia. He studied atHarvard University between 1833 and 1837.
Thoreau wasn’t interested
in most of the subjects at Harvard, so after graduating heopened a grammar school with his brother John. After John died of tetanus, he returned toConcord and met Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson told Thoreau that he should contribute toessays and local new
spapers. Thoreau’s first essay consisted of revised pages from his journal,
which he wrote in following Emerson
’s advice.On April 18th, 1841, Thoreau moved to Ralph Emerson’s home. He served as a tutor,
assistant, and gardener.
Thoreau moved back to Concord and worked in his father’s pencil
factory. He worked there most of the rest of his life. Thoreau needed to concentrate and work more on his writing. He built a cabin on the shores of Walden Pond. Thoreau was arrested for not paying his taxes on July 25th, 1846. After he left jail, Thoreau self-published
 Maine’s Woods
,
yet only 300 copies were sold. Thoreau left Walden Pond to live at Emerson’s home again. In
1854, he published
Walden
, a reflection on the two years he spent in
the woods. Thoreau’s health
started to decline after 1858. On May 6th, 1862, Henry David Thoreau passed away at age 44.
His last words were,” Now comes good sailing”.Although his life was brief, Thoreau’s writings and ideals remain influential today.
Hiswritings introduce many people to the concepts of Transcendentalism. The Transcendentalist
movement faded not long after Thoreau’s death, but influenced the development of utopian
communities and movements such as non-violent protests and the Civil Rights Movement. Evencolleges that promote self-understanding and community activism, such as Evergreen StateCollege, have echoes of Transcendentalism.

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