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Rachel Smith
Transcendentalist Essay
7, November 2012

Features of Transcendentalism in Avatar
Transcendentalism is an American philosophy started in the 1800’s, which is still part of modern culture today. Transcendentalism was developed by Immanuel Kant, and was based on the idea that, in order to comprehend the nature of reality, it must first be observed and explored using the method of reasoning. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were fundamental figures in Transcendentalism. Using the ideas of these figures many movies, music, television shows, and plenty more things in pop culture are based off of Transcendentalist views. In the movie Avatar directed by James Cameron, the characters depend on nature to survive, believe G-d is apart of nature, and believe that each individual has significance, all of which are Transcendentalist views. The dependence on nature in order to survive is a key factor in the movie Avatar. Emerson once said “…occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I not to them” (Emerson, “Nature”, 391), proving to us that Transcendentalists believe the man is a component of nature. In the movie Avatar, the Avatars live in the woods known as Pandora and use their surroundings to survive. Dr. Grace, Jake, and the rest of the people work together and depend upon one another and nature for survival. In the film the Na’vi people have a sacred relationship with their surroundings and teach Jake a new way of being in their world - being in Smith 2

agreement with his natural surroundings. As the conflict develops over the destruction of Pandora’s habitat, even the creatures come to the support and protection of the land. Neytiri says, “Our great mother does not take sides Jake, she protects only the balance of life.” (Avatar). The characters learn that overtime nature is what keeps oneself from surviving in a world full of chaos. The movie demonstrates how G-d plays a...
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