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By jberger33 Feb 19, 2014 553 Words

“When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.” This is a quote from one of the most famous transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcendentalism was a movement in the 19th century. It was a religious and philosophical movement the focused on self-reliance and the nature around us. Some of the main philosophers in the movement were Ralph Waldo Emerson who is known for his book Nature, Henry David Thoreau with his book Walden, and also Margaret Fuller who wrote Women in the Nineteenth Century. Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson are the most influential philosophers from transcendentalism, many of their ideas are still used in modern day transcendentalism. Transcendentalism started in New England during the first half of the 19th century. It started as a religious movement but later became an entire philosophy. Transcendentalists apposed the Calvinist idea of predestination. They also believed in the unity rather than the Trinity of God. Transcendentalism ideals are composed of Hindu texts, and various religions. It became a major cultural movement with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s publishing of “Nature” in 1836. A year later he wrote his speech “The American Scholar” which closed by calling for a revolution of the human consciousness to form a new idealist philosophy. By the 1840’s Emerson believed the movement was dying out, until a second wave of scholars came, which included Henry David Thoreau. Henry David Thoreau was the most influential philosopher to come from transcendentalism; his philosophies are still used today. He was an abolitionist. He was part of the Underground Railroad. He is often described as an anarchist because of his belief in individualism, and government should be limited. Thoreau believed non-violent protests were more effective than riots; this was the thought behind civil disobedience. This idea has been used by multiple political leaders; leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi in India, Leo Tolstoy in Russia, and also Martin Luther King in the United States. This is why Thoreau is considered one of the most influential thinkers out of the Transcendentalism Movement. His fame spread by the writing of his book Walden, this was his idea of simple living in harmony with nature. Some of his ideas are used by modern day environmentalists. Many of Thoreau’s ideas are still used today, which further proves that he is one of the most influential transcendentalists.

Although transcendentalism is a movement from the 1800s, many of the ideas from it are still used today proving it is still alive and thriving. Thoreau’s ideas of Civil Disobedience have been used to change the world. Many people throughout the world also use his ideas for environmentalism that were published in his book “Walden” from 1854. Some people may ask, “Where’s Waldo?” Ralph Waldo Emerson influenced nearly every transcendentalist thinker. Many of his ideas are still used today such as his idea of self-reliance, and his contributions to mysticism.

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau have contributed a lot to transcendentalism, which still thrives today. Although these two thinkers are the most influential there were many other philosophers that contributed to transcendentalism. Margaret Fuller wrote the book “Women in the Nineteenth Century” which was very important to the way women were viewed at the time. Transcendentalism is still thriving today, and it will for a long time.

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