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The American Heritage Dictionary defines transcendentalism as The belief or doctrine that knowledge of reality is derived from intuitive sources rather than objective A more concise definition of transcendentalism would be a philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual over the material and scientific Writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were both celebrated transcendentalists Emerson concentrated his theories in his poetry and numerous essays like Nature and Self Reliance where as Thoreau threw himself into his philosophies as is reflected in Walden The transcendental influences of Emerson and Thoreau are revealed through their views on nature government and individualism Through nature Emerson and Thoreaus transcendental qualities were exposed Both writers emersed themselves in nature Emerson through his writing Thoreau literally Emerson came up with and wrote down ideas as to how man should learn from nature In his view nature was something to be worshipped as a divine entity Emersons philosophy focused on a God who imposed a pattern on event Cayton 58 as is shown in the cycles of nature It was his belief that we should regard nature as a phenomenon not a substance to attribute necessary existence to spirit to esteem nature as an accident and effect Emerson Emerson also viewed nature as a way to learn characteristics about ones own self In his writing Nature is brought within the sphere of the self man is fully cut adrift from the belief in any reality external to himself Wichor 54 This idea was expressed very well when Emerson said that all natural objects make a kindred impression when the mind is open to the influence Emerson Nature Thoreau following closely the works of Emerson emersed himself in nature and wrote about his observations and experiences To him nature was motherly and nurturing as a well as divine In Thoreaus mind Natureis therapy for the tired and despairing people It is joy happiness communion with God It
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