AN AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY U.S. History.orgAs a group, the transcendentalists led the celebration of the American experiment as one of individualism and self-reliance. They took progressive stands on women's rights, abolition, reform, and education. They criticized government, organized religion, laws, social institutions, and creeping industrialization. They created an American "state of mind" in which imagination was better than reason, creativity was better than theory, and action was better than contemplation. And they had faith that all would be well because humans could transcend limits and reach astonishing heights.
|The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again.|
It came into him, life; it went out from him, truth.
It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts.
It came to him, business; it went from him, poetry.
It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought.
It can stand, and it can go.
It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires
Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.
-Excerpt from The American Scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson