Thoreau Vs. Emerson: Transcendentalism

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Thoreau v. Emerson: Transcendentalism Started with the help of Ralph Waldo Emerson, transcendentalism was a movement that focused on finding truth in nature and discovering the sublime. As the movement got more traction, philosophers such as Henry David Thoreau furthered the idea of transcendentalism by living in the woods in search of the sublime and to apply Emerson’s philosophies. In Emerson’s essay, “Nature,” he defined the main principals of transcendentalism and started a movement which influenced many, including Thoreau, who devoted himself to these ideals, which he wrote about in “Walden Pond.” While the two both believe that one must seek the truth in nature to truly know him or herself, the difference is what they believe should be done with nature as their teacher. Emerson believed that one can discover his or her identity through nature and then use it as a guide on how to life one’s life. “Nature is but an image or imitation of wisdom, the last thing of the soul; nature being a thing which doth only do, but not know,” wrote Emerson(Plotinus). He believed that nature was a physical…show more content…
Through his journey of getting in touch with his body, he was able to understand the root of his human instincts and decisions. He rediscovered himself and his morals by “liv[ing] deliberately” (Walden) in nature. Thoreau ended up leaving the woods with a new outlook on life and decided to be a vegetarian and stop killing animals. Through this, Thoreau’s respect for all life is evident. The philosopher concluded that wise men “with every year [will become] less a fisherman” (HL,2) because of the fact that they no longer feel the need to stoop to the level of a Paleolithic creature. To Thoreau, in order to understand nature is for a person to realize that they don’t need to kill other forms of life to better their own, because the truth that they seek can fill their
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