Mr. Tourais 11 English B8, F2 Some Basic Tenets of Transcendentalism It is important to remember as you read this that Transcendentalism is a highly individualistic philosophy, so Transcendentalists tend to disagree with one another quite readily. This is merely a list of beliefs that many Transcendentalists might agree with… 1. Transcendentalism is a very optimistic philosophy in that it assumes that all people and things want to exist in their ideal state. 2. One must have faith in intuition, for no church or creed can communicate truth. In fact, truth can never be transmitted from one person into another, but must be accessed by direct experience… 3. …That is why Transcendentalists emphasize self-reliance. 4. Transcendentalists feel that the goal of life is to "transcend" or rise above the lower animalistic impulses of life and move from the rational to a spiritual realm. 5. The human soul is a part of the Oversoul, Universal Spirit, or "Float” and will return to it at death… 6. …Therefore, Death is never to be feared, for at death the soul merely passes back to the Oversoul… 7. …Also, every individual is to be respected because everyone is a portion of that Oversoul, or God. 8. This Oversoul/Life Force/God can be found everywhere… therefore, traveling to holy places is not necessary. Churches are also unnecessary as any place on earth is a fit place for worship. 9. Miracles are all about us - the whole world is a miracle and the smallest creature is one, no less significant than the miracles of the Bible or any other sacred text. In Whitman’s words, "A mouse is a miracle enough to stagger quintillions of infidels." 10. More important than a concern about the afterlife, should be a concern for this life. 11. Emphasis should be placed on the here and now. As Thoreau said, "Give me one world at a time." 12. There is a relationship between all things, one must realize the unity between oneself and the universe. (over) 13. If God is in everything, and God cannot be evil, then evil does not exist. What we think of as evil is only the absence of good, just as darkness is just the absence of light. 14. Light is more powerful than darkness because one ray of light penetrates the dark. Just so, one act of good can undue a substantial amount of injustice 15. The transcendentalists see the necessity of examples of great leaders, writers, philosophers, and others to show what an individual can become through thinking and action. a. BUT: Remember Tenet #2! Great men and women point us in the direction of truth, but we must find the truth ourselves. 16. An intelligent person always seeks to revise their beliefs and make them better. It is foolish to worry about consistency and believe something just because you believed it yesterday. 17. Societal reform must not be emphasized - true reform comes from within. A single individual, acting from a place of conscience can affect an entire community (Adapted from http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap4/4intro.html) Assignment: Write a two-page response to the above in which you identify the tenets that you believe to be true and/or interesting, as well as those tenets which you either find confusing, or with which you don’t agree.