Transcendentalism seems very complicated. A big, fancy word that that involves a lot of syllables. Actually, most people have probably thought about the concept it ‘defines’ and just not had a name for it. Transcendentalism is obviously connected to ‘transcends’ which means to go beyond the limits of something, usually an abstract concept. So in transcendentalism, people gain knowledge about themselves and the world around them that goes beyond physical limits; they become one with nature or their spirit basically. The knowledge transcendentalist gain is through intuition and their imagination, not logic or social norms. They trust themselves (self-reliance) and their own thoughts on what is right; not what everyone else may be telling them (non-conformity). Transcendentalist search for individuality. Some famous transcendentalist that may be recognizable is: Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. These are the ‘fathers’ of this philosophy that started it back in the 1800’s.

This thinking style has fallen from popularity, but it is still around in modern times (though it may not be called transcendentalism). All kinds of music and TV shows and movies emphasize individuality, not conforming to society and taking time away from society to spend in nature. Disney films like ‘The Little Mermaid’ portray ideas like that. Ariel is told by her father, a king (ruling power), that she cannot even think about becoming human, but she decides to trust her own initiation about it and does as she sees best. Also the song Brave by Sara Bareilles has transcendentalist ideas in it. She says to “say what you wanna say” and to not be afraid of society. Bareilles literally wrote ‘Brave’ to tell people, specifically one of her friends, to not conform to society and to be their own person; key aspects of transcendentalism. Though it may not be obvious at first, western culture is filled with ideas of transcendentalist; self-reliance, individuality, non-conformity, and spending time in nature.

Brave- Sara Bareilles:


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