Comparing Transcendentalism In Henry David Thoreau And Ralph Waldo Emerson

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About mid-nineteenth century a philosophical and religious movement known as transcendentalism emerged, protesting against the general state of spirituality and intellectualism. Transcendentalism emphasizes interrelated relationships between nature, divinity, and human kind; a faith in intuition, by way of passive perception. Among this movement arise two philosophers: Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau was Emerson’s student and adopted many of Emerson’s views, but also used those views as a base for his own. Based on Emerson’s and Thoreau’s work such as “Self-Reliance” and “Walden,” major philosophical differences in their approach to Transcendentalism are evident through Thoreau’s demonstration of a greater preoccupation…show more content…
In the “Friday” chapter of “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” he asks: “Is not Nature rightly read, that of which she is commonly taken to be the symbol merely?” He implies that he sees the spirit realm to be the physical world, and he seeks “to be always on the alert to find God in nature” (Journal, 9/7/51). A returning ideal is to seek absolute reality, and step beyond what we think we know, whether it be pursued in the here and now- in the world we reside- and to have a part of time forming from our existence, flowing eternally, and meet the expense to access the…show more content…
Our registered emotional and aesthetic responses are, thus, not mistaken as unreal. Thoreau understands that mind and body are inseparable and the universe is an organic whole. Only through “the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us” we learn the “essential facts of life” (Walden, II). We are being occupied in the sensory world when we observe sights, textures, and sounds, not apart as disembodied consciousness; an illusion and “movement of the soul” (CW2: 189) as viewed by Emerson

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