Essays On Anti-Transcendentalism

Essays On Anti-Transcendentalism-18
The Unitarians were “modern.” They attempted to reconcile Locke’s empiricism with Christianity by maintaining that the accounts of miracles in the Bible provide overwhelming evidence for the truth of religion.It was precisely on this ground, however, that the transcendentalists found fault with Unitarianism.

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The Transcendentalists feel that the world is filled with goodness, however, the Anti-Transcendentalists believe in the more reasonable idea that man has the potential to be either good or bad.

Moby Dick is portrayed as evil in the story as Ahab tells of how he lost his leg to the white behemoth.

For although they admired Channing’s idea that human beings can become more like God, they were persuaded by Hume that no empirical proof of religion could be satisfactory.

In letters written in his freshman year at Harvard (1817), Emerson tried out Hume’s skeptical arguments on his devout and respected Aunt Mary Moody Emerson, and in his journals of the early 1820s he discusses with approval Hume’s and his underlying critique of necessary connection.

After Ahab loses his leg to the white whale he Creates himself as the "race-hero"; moving against the presence of evil, Ahab vows to kill the source of evil: Moby Dick.

(Stern, 74) Ahab, therefore, unconscientiously casts his own evil onto Moby Dick.What we now know as transcendentalism first arose among the liberal New England Congregationalists, who departed from orthodox Calvinism in two respects: they believed in the importance and efficacy of human striving, as opposed to the bleaker Puritan picture of complete and inescapable human depravity; and they emphasized the unity rather than the “Trinity” of God (hence the term “Unitarian,” originally a term of abuse that they came to adopt.) Most of the Unitarians held that Jesus was in some way inferior to God the Father but still greater than human beings; a few followed the English Unitarian Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) in holding that Jesus was thoroughly human, although endowed with special authority.The Unitarians’ leading preacher, William Ellery Channing (1780–1842), portrayed orthodox Congregationalism as a religion of fear, and maintained that Jesus saved human beings from sin, not just from punishment.Emerson and Thoreau sought this relation in solitude amidst nature, and in their writing.By the 1840s they, along with other transcendentalists, were engaged in the social experiments of Brook Farm, Fruitlands, and Walden; and, by the 1850s in an increasingly urgent critique of American slavery.Thoreau influenced many leaders of later Civil Rights movements."Thoreau's essay is a noble ringing reiteration of the highest religious individualism as a self-evident social principle"(Emerson, 5) The essay also had a power with great minds who were looking to break free of oppressive governments.His sermon “Unitarian Christianity” (1819) denounced “the conspiracy of ages against the liberty of Christians” (P, 336) and helped give the Unitarian movement its name.In “Likeness to God” (1828) he proposed that human beings “partake” of Divinity and that they may achieve “a growing likeness to the Supreme Being” (T, 4).In "Civil Disobedience", we can see the stark contrasts between the attitude of the state and Toreau's own views. Thoreau only disagreed with the principle behind slavery, "he knew no Negroes, had never experienced the slightest social oppression, but was a radical individualist" (Smith, 62).Thoreau was a staunch supporter of John Brown, and went as far as to honor his death at Harper's Ferry.

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