Probably no one is more strongly associated with transcendentalism than the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Emerson wrote fiery essays arguing for independence, self-reliance, and going beyond the boundaries of society.
We only (or at least mainly) understand the world through experience and the senses.
Philosophy and science should proceed by carefully observing the world, building up a supply of concrete facts, and then analyzing those facts.
Although Transcendentalism didn’t grow into a flourishing philosophical school as its founders hoped (more on that in section 6), Transcendentalist ideas heavily influenced other movements and continue to have echoes today.
The Transcendentalist movement was the main inspiration for William James and other founders of the Pragmatist school, which has been by far America’s most significant contribution to global philosophy.Like Emerson, Carlin hated social rules and was constantly pushing limits – using cursewords in his routines and talking about taboo subjects like race and sexuality at a time when standup comics almost never dared to broach these uncomfortable topics.Emerson would have liked the quote, which celebrates both social awkwardness (talking to yourself) and independent thinking. in the 1820s, when America had fully established its independence from Britain.The film is Transcendentalist in a couple of ways: first, the emphasis on emotions rather than logic and duty.Preston’s moral awakening comes when he gets in touch with his emotions, which suggests that true morality is an emotional experience.Clearly, Emerson and Nietzsche would have strongly disapproved of Hitler and the Third Reich, but it goes to show how philosophers’ ideas can have unexpected consequences when they enter the realms of society, culture, and politics.There are many Transcendentalist themes in the sci-fi action movie Equilibrium starring Christian Bale.Transcendentalism was America’s first major intellectual movement. At that time, the country was led by the first generation to have been born the Revolutionary War – a generation that had never known anything other than independence.People in this generation couldn’t understand their parents’ reverence for European culture and philosophy, a reverence that was still strong in spite of the Americans’ desire for independence.The human mind is above all an organ of perception. The senses only tell us about the physical world, but the most important realities are those that lie beyond the physical world – things that we cannot see, feel, or hear, but must sense through our spirituality.If we place too much trust in the senses, we will end up forgetting that these other realities even exist, and this will cause both philosophical errors and spiritual pain.