Individualism in Emerson and Thoreau Written by: Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was a lecturer, essayist, and poet, was born on May 25,and is generally considered the father of American transcendentalism"a philosophy that rejects the idea that knowledge can be fully derived from experience and observation; rather, truth resides in the spiritual world.
Thoreau recounts his personal quest to demonstrate to his readers the possibility of surmounting the obstacles that materialistic society places in the path of the individual. He does not — cannot — spell out for the reader the spiritual truth that lies at the end of the journey.
He focuses on the search itself and the compelling need to make it. Walden chronicles spiritual growth, but the progress of this growth is not linear. It has peaks and valleys, periods of latency as well as of inspired perception.
In "Economy," Thoreau explains his purpose in going to live at the pond. He distinguishes between the outer man — the ephemeral physical being that "is soon ploughed into the soil for compost," and the inner man.
He points out the forces that dull and subjugate the inner man, materialism and constant labor in particular. He recognizes the pervasive malaise that results from society's suppression of what we might be — the "stereotyped but unconscious despair.
We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.
The ultimate goal of the author's experiment at Walden is not to prove the economic advantage of living simply, but rather to nurture understanding of self and of the universe.
In the "Conclusion," Thoreau urges us to seek "our own interior. He encourages the reader to begin right now. We tend to "esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star. God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages.
And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality which surrounds us. Our existence occupies one moment in the continuity of time "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in," Thoreau writes at the end of "Where I Lived.
From any particular point of existence, the universal is accessible.
By living deliberately, self-reliantly, and independently in the present, we may transcend the limits of time, "walk with the Builder of the universe. Life at Walden Pond provides Thoreau with the opportunity to journey into himself, into nature, and into the divine, but other men may have approaches of their own, reflecting their particular conditions and circumstances.
Even for Thoreau, his Walden experiment is only one expression of the spiritual impulse.
As he explains in the "Conclusion," he leaves Walden because he has "several more lives to live," and can spare no more time for the one he has so fully described in his book.
He does not prescribe living at Walden as a remedy for the spiritual ills of others; he offers it only as an example.Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau as Fathers of Transcendentalism Transcendentalism was a movement in writing that took place in the mid-nineteenth century.
It formed in the early to mid nineteenth century and reached it climax around during an era commonly referred to as the American Renaissance, America’s Golden Day, or the Flowering of New England.
Transcendentalism flourished in the intellectual centers of Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and, because of Ralph Waldo Emerson's presence, in nearby Concord as well. Emerson moved to Concord in and bought a home on the Cambridge Turnpike in Thoreau, Emerson, and Transcendentalism; Introduction; Table of Contents.
All Subjects. What Is Transcendentalism? Introduction; Henry David Thoreau; Life and Background of Thoreau; Although Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amos Bronson Alcott, and others among the Transcendentalists lived to old age in the s and beyond, by about the.
In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay "Self Reliance" and Henry David Thoreau’s essay "Resistance to Civil Government" ("Civil Disobedience"), both transcendentalist thinkers speak about being individual and what reforms and changes need to be made in society.
Henry David Thoreau is the fella who brought you civil disobedience and Walden Pond, and he's the other big name associated with Transcendentalism. Like his fellow Transcendentalists, Thoreau was into nature. He was also big on individualism. In fact, he was so individualistic that he decided to go.
Approaching Walden: Nature and the Necessaries of the Soul.
Rob Rogers, Thoreau and Transcendentalism. Katie Elsener, Language Arts teachers and Social Studies teachers know who Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are and have read at least some excerpts from their books and essays.
Many teachers .