Why is it called Transcendentalism?
 Transcend
means to
exceed, surpass, or
go beyond something.
What did Transcendentalists Believe?
Transcendentalists (followers
of the movement) generally
had a collection of very
diverse ideas about literature,
philosophy, religion, social
reform, and the general state
of American culture.
 Being a transcendentalist
meant something different
and unique for each person
involved in the movement.
What did Transcendentalists
Belief in the “Self” instead of
looking for a higher power for
guidance, such as God or the
 Humans are essentially good
 Insight/Intuition (what you
naturally believe) is more powerful
and important than experience or
logical thinking and reason
 All living things are connectedNature is an escape from the evils
and materialism of society
Basic Beliefs
 Non-conformity/Rejection
of the materialistic
 Importance of Nature
 Free Thought –Intuitive
Where did it come from?
Ralph Waldo Emerson (a famous
transcendentalist) gave German philosopher
Immanuel Kant credit for popularizing the term
“transcendentalism in the 1700s”
 It began as a reform movement in the Unitarian
 1830s - Emerson helped found the
“Transcendental Club”
 It is not a religion-, it is a philosophy or form of
Historical Background
American Revolution inspired many artists
to create an “American Identity” that was
separate from England.
 Reaction against some of the other
movements of the time (Enlightenment, Age
of Reason)
 Many aspects of “American” culture were
changing Ex. Politics
 Industrialism=Expansion
 Technological Advances
Who were some of the
 Ralph
Waldo Emerson
 Henry David Thoreau
 Margaret Fuller
Ralph Waldo Emerson
 Unitarian minister
 Poet and essayist, and
popular lecturer
 Wrote essay, Nature and
 Founded the
Transcendental Club in
1836-popularized the belief
 Considered the “Father” of
 Supporter of abolitionism
Henry David Thoreau
 Schoolteacher, essayist,
 Most famous for Walden
and Civil Disobedience
 Lived with the Emerson
family from 1841-1843
 Influenced environmental
 Supporter of abolitionism
Margaret Fuller
Journalist, critic,
women’s rights activist
First editor of The Dial, a
transcendental journal
First female journalist to
work on a major
newspaper—The New
York Tribune
Taught at Alcott’s Temple
Shared Definition of
Discussion Questions
How are you affected by nature? Do you find comfort in it?
Do you reflect the moods of nature?
What is the role of nature in your life?
What is meant by an individual's spiritual side? How to you
define it?
Is there a connection between the individual's spirit and
nature? If so, what is that connection?
What does it mean to know something intuitively? For
example, has a parent or a sibling ever known something
was wrong with you without having talked with or seen
you? What do we mean when we say "I just know it"?
How do you demonstrate that you are an individual? Do
you think independently of others or do you follow the