Define the term "Transcendentalism" and give its main representatives.
American Transcendentalism is a philosophical and literary movement which took place during the late 1820s and 1830s. It originated among a small group of intellectuals who were reacting against the orthodoxy of Calvinism and the rationalism of the Unitarian Church, developing instead their own faith centering on the divinity of man and nature. Transcendentalism derived some of its idealistic concepts from romantic German philosophy notably that of Immanuel Kant, and from such English authors as Carlyle, Coleridge and Wordsworth. The mentioned group if american intellectuals was called Transcendental Club founded by Ralph Waldo Emerson in Boston in 1836. Apart from the founder of the club the most important representatives there were: Henry David Thoreau, Amos Branson Alcott, Margaret Fuller and Elizabeth Peabody. Transcendentalists thought that the intuitive faculty, instead of rational or sensical, became the means for a conscious union of the individual psyche (known in Sanskrit as Atman) with the world psyche also known as the Oversoul, like force, prime mover and God (known in Sanskrit as Brahma). Other basic premises were:.
- an individual is the spiritual center of the universe, and in an individual can be found the clue to nature, history and ultimately, the cosmos itself. It is not a rejection of the existance of God, but a preference to explain an individual and the world in terms of an individual;.
- the structure of the universe literally duplicates the structure of the individual self-all knowledge, therefore, begins with self-knowledge. This is similar to Aristotle's dictum "know thyself";.
- transcendentalists accepted the neo-Platonic conception of nature as a living mystery, full of signs - nature is symbolic;.
- the belief that individual virtue and happiness depend upon self-realization -.