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Emerson, along with other great men, helped to mold what Transcendentalism was and what it was to become.Without these men, Transcendentalism would not have been anything.
He believed in “transcendental knowledge” but confined it to things such as time, space, quantity and casualty, which in his views were imposed by the perception of human minds.
He regarded these aspects as the universal sense experience.
Emerson, however, extended this concept of transcendental knowledge to include moral and other truths that go beyond the limits of the human sense experience, which Kant had specifically denied.
An American essayist, poet, and popular philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) began his career as a Unitarian minister in Boston, but achieved worldwide fame as a lecturer and the author of such essays as “Self-Reliance,” “History,” “The Over-Soul,” and “Fate.” Drawing on English and German Romanticism, Neoplatonism, Kantianism, and Hinduism, Emerson developed a metaphysics of process, an epistemology of moods, and an “existentialist” ethics of self-improvement.
He influenced generations of Americans, from his friend Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, and in Europe, Friedrich Nietzsche, who takes up such Emersonian themes as power, fate, the uses of poetry and history, and the critique of Christianity.
In “The American Scholar,” delivered as the Phi Beta Kappa Address in 1837, Emerson maintains that the scholar is educated by nature, books, and action.Process is the basis for the succession of moods Emerson describes in “Experience,” (CW3: 30), and for the emphasis on the present throughout his philosophy.Some of Emerson’s most striking ideas about morality and truth follow from his process metaphysics: that no virtues are final or eternal, all being “initial,” (CW2: 187); that truth is a matter of glimpses, not steady views.Transcendentalism and Ralph Waldo Emerson Transcendentalism was a literary movement that began in the beginning of the 1800’s and lasted up until the Civil War.Ralph Waldo Emerson was a man whose views on life and the universe were intriguing and influential.Through his source of most of its poetry and mysticism, Emerson fostered the growth of transcendentalism of the New England variant.His ideas, which came from Kant, were taken from the German philosopher Immanuel Kant whose ideas of the universe and soul were very intriguing.It also comes from materialism in which the only verifiable reality is thought to be quantifiable outside world of objects, and sense data.Through this fusion, transcendentalism was transported to America as a philosophy.Life is the scholar’s “dictionary” (CW1: 60), the source for what she has to say: “Only so much do I know as I have lived” (CW).The true scholar speaks from experience, not in imitation of others; her words, as Emerson puts it, are “are loaded with life…” (CW1: 59).