Thursday, April 27, 2017

100 REFLECTIONS: The Sages of Concord #19

     "By virtue of its openness to science . . .  transcendentalism avoids divorcing itself from the mainstream of modern science and technology. But it affirms that ”not he is great who can alter matter, but who can alter my state of mind.” Some say that modern liberalism is without a soul . . . It is the ambition, if it has not yet been the fate, of transcendentalism to provide a soul for modern liberalism and thereby to enlarge the possibilities of modern life.”
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    " Transcendentalism did not change American life, but it did change – and continues to change—individual American lives. Transcendentalism was not only a literary philosophical and religious movement; it was also, inescapably, a social and political movement as well. . . . Thoreau could say ”the purest science is still biographical,” or, as Emerson might have said, there is, finally, no science, there are only scientists.
     In religion transcendentalism teaches that the religious spirit is a necessary aspect of human nature . .  In literature transcendentalism holds that it is a built-in necessity of human nature to express itself . . .The social imperative of transcendentalism is twofold. It insists, first, that the well-being of the individual – of all the individuals – is the basic purpose and the ultimate justification for all social organizations and second that autonomous individuals cannot exist apart from others. . . that the purpose of education is to facilitate the self-development of each individual. The political trajectory of transcendentalism begins in philosophical freedom and ends in democratic individualism.
     By virtue of its openness to science  . . . transcendentalism avoids divorcing itself from the mainstream of modern science and technology. But it affirms that ”not he is great who can alter matter, but who can alter my state of mind.” Some say that modern liberalism is without a soul . . . It is the ambition, if it has not yet been the fate, of transcendentalism to provide a soul for modern liberalism and thereby to enlarge the possibilities of modern life.”


from Emerson: Mind On Fire by Robert D. Richardson, Jr.

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