transcendentalism

transcendentalism
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  • Industrialization was taking over America. People were working extra hard, and cities were becoming overcrowded.
  • A group of people began to grow in the belief that life should be appreciated beyond materialism. They wanted a life witnessed through spirituality that transcended materialism and rationality. Thus, the transcendentalist movement was born.
  • The Transcendentalists worked to spread their belief that people are fundamentally good, but were corrupted by the society of the day, and that they should work towards self-reliance
  • One famous Transcendentalist was Henry David Thoreau. He often voiced his opinions and beliefs. Thoreau lived in isolation on Walden Pond for over two years, chronicling the experience in a book. 
  • In Walden, Thoreau wrote, "I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if i could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
  • Thoreau's book summarizes the main ideas of Transcendentalists; to live life simply and free of material greed is to open oneself to transcending spirituality, and to free oneself of societal corruption. The idea that people are good, when self-reliant and unaffected by societal norms, was their basis. 
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