Transcendentalism Transcend: [verb] to go beyond the limits of; exceed; be above and independent of the physical universe Transcendentalism “We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds...A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men." Transcendentalism was a philosophical, spiritual and literary movement that flourished in the US in the decades before the Civil War: the antebellum period. Philosophically: •Transcendentalists believed there was an inherent connection between all living elements and human beings. .•They believed that through the attainment of knowledge, human beings could transcend the limitations of the physical senses and attain spiritual awareness and enlightenment. •They believed that this knowledge resided within an individual and could be accessed through meditation, self aware ness and communing with nature. Spiritually: • Personal belief and meditation was valued over organized worship and services. • No mediator, such as a priest or minister, was necessary for a person to experience a connection with the divine. • They contended that there is a spark of the divine in all human beings, and that if we understand ourselves and are true to ourselves, then we are also true to God. “The foregoing generations beheld God and Nature face to face; we—through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?” -Emerson The Transparent Eyeball could simultaneously absorb and observe information while being part of that information was a symbolic representation of these ideas. Literary: •Transcendentalists. Like their fictional counterparts, the Romantics, were trying to forge a distinctly American literature and philosophy that valued the power of the individual. The Transcendentalist adopts the whole connection of spiritual doctrine. He believes in miracle, in the perpetual openness of the human mind … he believes in inspiration, and in ecstasy. He wishes that the spiritual principle should be suffered to demonstrate itself to the end, in all possible applications to the state of man … that is, anything positive, dogmatic, personal. Thus, the spiritual measure of inspiration is the depth of the thought, and never, who said it? And so he resists all attempts to palm other rules and measures on the spirit than its own.... - Emerson The Oversoul Emerson espoused belief in a force called the Oversoul. •The Oversoul was the divine spirit or mind that was present in every man and in all of nature. It was an all-pervading, omniscient, supreme mind. Each part of nature or of humanity was a reflection of the divine mind. In how many churches… is man made sensible that he is an infinite Soul? That the earth and heavens are passing into his mind? That he is drinking forever the soul of God? . . . But now the priest’s Sabbath has lost the splendor of nature; it is unlovely; we are glad when it is done; we can make, we do make, even sitting in our pews, a far better, holier, sweeter, for ourselves. - Emerson •The most famous of American Transcendentalists are Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. •The great American poet Walt Whitman also had transcendentalist tendencies. •Underline the aphorism’s as we read Emerson’s Nature.