Ralph Waldo Emerson And The Fundamentals Of Transcendentalism

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Transcendentalists theorize that conforming to society and the institutions found within not only exhaust the virtue of the individual, but also deteriorate a community’s ability to thrive and prosper. This theory serves as the very fundamentals of transcendentalism, a philosophical movement that had strong faith in the good of people and nature. To transcendentalists, it is not the physical experiences or institutions that emanate the fundamentals of transcendentalism, it is the qualities of the mind, body, and spirit of humans. Furthermore, transcendentalist philosophers, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, have entrusted individualism and self-reliance with the task of constituting a true and robust community. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a philosopher …show more content…
However it is important to understand that Emerson and other transcendentalists are not against the idea of the advancement of society, but in fact they are conflicted about how the advancement is executed. To reiterate, Emerson says early on in his essay, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,— that is genius” (Emerson Page). To better understand Emerson’s intentions by saying the quote cited above, one must grasp what he exactly means by “believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men” (Emerson Page). In order to do so we must understand a couple of important details. First and foremost note the “private heart” Emerson mentions. The private heart is what transcendentalist interpret as being the desires of every individual. Secondly we look at what Emerson defines society to be: “Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not. ... All men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves” (Emerson Page). Lastly we must note the presence of disappointment Emerson has towards society: “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions” (Emerson Page). When constructing those pieces together the transcendentalism values and characteristics that are very deeply embedded in Emerson become uncovered. When Emerson says “we capulate to badges and names” he is speaking on the labels society has forever placed on humans. Labels like gender, race, names, and social status are all created by humans in order to classify the artificial values of individuals. It is evident that transcendentalists, especially Emerson, ridicule these human manifested systems of classification. Emerson

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