Transcendentalism, Thoreau, & Emerson

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Transcendentalism is defined as any of various philosophies that propose to discover the nature of reality by investigating the process of thought rather than the objects of sense experience. In simpler words, transcendentalism can be defined as a philosophy where thinking is more important than doing or the search for reality through thought.

Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts. He was educated at Harvard University. In the late 1830s and early 1840s, Thoreau taught school and tutored in Concord and on Straten Island, New York. In 1845, he moved to a cabin at Walden Pond, near Concord. He stayed there until 1847.

Thoreau made several very interesting statements in the first chapter of his book entitled Walden. The first statement that I came across while reading was, "The civilized man is a more experienced and wiser savage." In the paragraph that contained this statement, Thoreau was talking about how it is good for civilization to accept modern inventions as advantages. However, I do not believe this statement to be completely and utterly true. I believe that the first part of the statement, that man is more experienced, is true. In the United States, the so-called "civilized man  is more experienced than the so-called "savage.  We have had experiences with new technology advances, with war, and with many other things that the "savage  did not experience.

In spite of the way I feel about the first part of Thoreau's statement, I do not believe that the second half, about man being wiser, is true. More experience has not made the civilized man wiser. While perhaps we know more about things, modern civilization as a whole has not become wiser. There is a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom can be defined as having or showing good judgment. Knowledge can be defined as the act, fact, or state of knowing. Most people know facts, but n... Continue Reading