Essays On Anti-Transcendentalism

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Stimulated by English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder and Schleiermacher, and the skepticism of Hume, the transcendentalists operated with the sense that a new era was at hand.

They were critics of their contemporary society for its unthinking conformity, and urged that each person find, in Emerson’s words, “an original relation to the universe” (O, 3).

The Transcendentalists feel that the world is filled with goodness, however, the Anti-Transcendentalists believe in the more reasonable idea that man has the potential to be either good or bad.

Moby Dick is portrayed as evil in the story as Ahab tells of how he lost his leg to the white behemoth.

Transcendentalism is an American literary, philosophical, religious, and political movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Other important transcendentalists were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Lydia Maria Child, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, and Theodore Parker.

Herder blurred the lines between religious texts and humanly-produced poetry, casting doubt on the authority of the Bible, but also suggesting that texts with equal authority could still be written.

It was against this background that Emerson asked in 1836, in the first paragraph of : “Why should we not have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs” (O, 5).

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