emerson.2011 - Ralph Waldo Emerson: Transcendentalism I...

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Ralph Waldo Emerson: Transcendentalism I Introduction to American Literature Professor Iannini Rutgers University October 17, 2011
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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. Speak your latent conviction and it shall be the universal sense; for always the inmost becomes the outmost,--and out first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton, is that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. --Emerson, “Self-Reliance” (1841) [1163]
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Some Influences on Emerson’s Thought : Kant : Our world is composed of phenomena (the world of appearances) and noumena (the real world). We learn about phenomena through our senses (Lockean empiricism), but we only learn about the real world by using our Reason. Swedenborg : The spiritual world mirrors the natural world. German and English Romanticism (Goethe, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron): Emphasis on feeling over reason. Buddhist and Hindu religious texts : We live in a world of false appearances. In reality, God pervades everything. When we meditate, we realize that everything and everyone is connected.
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knew only egoism. --Alexis de Tocqueville,
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emerson.2011 - Ralph Waldo Emerson: Transcendentalism I...

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