Transcendentalists dvd


Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement

Course No.



Professor Ashton Nichols


see also



finished lecture 5


“This world we live in is nothing but thickened light”



finished lecture




Hume materialist says


Idealist vs materialist



Platos idealism  like the concept of  Maya


German idealist; mysticism

Immanual Kant argues that behind phenomenal reality lies the noumena, or ground of being, which cannot be sensed. Dualistic


What is it that exists outside our senses; how can we prove its existence.


English romatics: Wordsworth, Coleridge


Spiritual; like energy


Emerson in Nature: “Build therefore your own world”

Questions accumulation of wealth for wealth’s sake


Christian mystics



Emphasise crucial importance of self

Unfettered mind

Inner light for each person.



Attempted to resolve Plato Aristotle idealism/materialism debate by saying spiritual somehow resides (is immanent) in matter. (immanence)


Materialism (scientific rationalism) dominates today



Unitarian universalists value his work


William Ellery Channing:


“Congregationalists” included Calvinists.


Boston “Congregationalists” who eventually, grudgingly, accepted the title of “Unitarian”. Emphasized not dogma, but social responsibility, charity, and moral action. Very popular. Participated in early  meetings of the transcendental club, but was old by then.  His idea of self development found its way into Emerson’s “Self Reliance”.


Very similar to Emerson & Transcendentalists in stressing my freedom to determine my religious belief based on my experience.


Unitarian: do not agree with idea of Trinity.


Helped others to break away from strict Calvinism, with its notion of predestination and idea of basic human sinfulness.


His (whose?) idea of the mind as something that grows, or develops like a plant or animal is similar to the British romantics, specially Coleridge


“Unitarianism” originated in England as result of numerous experiments in religious denominations.


His (whose?)specific theology evolved into Unitarian Universalism, still widely active today. His social activism included peaceful abolitionism. Anti-poverty, anti war. His ideas led to foundation of social services. Distrusted governments.


British scientist Joseph Priestly was instrumental in bringing Unitarianism to the US. He was run out of Birmington by an angry mob,

Who also burned his home and lab because they say his ideas, especially his religious ideas are far too radical.