Theory-& analysis of Transcendentalism according to Emerson’s Nature
Generally, we human beings have an innate sense of knowledge about the divine power and nature and it is considered as Transcendentalism. It went beyond the mind and logic. Transcendentalists believe that the divine can only be felt and it is not always possible to understand beauty of nature, or for that matter, beauty of anything, by the help of mind. It can be rather be only felt from the intuitive self.
So when we begin to understand, transcendentalism, we must know that many people and historians also call this era as the age of American Romanticism. Moreover, to differentiate the use of world ‘transcendental’, in frequent other contexts, transcendentalism era was also known as ‘American transcendentalism.
Throughout history, people have been materialists or optimists, a distinction that Emerson outlines with a list of contrasts between acquisitive and idealistic ways of thinking.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the popular authors who are known for their Transcendentalist writing. Within his writing, Emerson expresses Transcendentalism within the idea of man being a “transparent eyeball”; man does not exist but can see and perceive knowledge from his surroundings and is enlightened by it. He also expresses the idea of how people have a choice of how they want to live their life, and how the human mind alone sets the bounds to what a person can do.
Like idealists, Emerson believes that a person’s ethics flow naturally from an inner disposition. His list of ethical characteristics is reminiscent of the code of conduct he presents in “Self-Reliance”: “It is simpler to be self-dependent. The height, the deity of man is, to be self-sustained, to need no gift, no foreign force. Society is good when it does not violate me; but best when it is liked to separateness.”
Emerson relates idealism to transcendentalism. He reminds us that the term “transcendentalism” was first used by the German philosopher Emmanuel Kant. Contrary to the English philosopher John Locke, who maintained that all knowledge originates through our sensual impressions of the external world, Kant argued that the mind itself has independent intuitions, which he termed “transcendental.”
Emerson describes true solitude as going out into nature and leaving behind all preoccupying activities as well as society. When a man gazes at the stars, he becomes aware of his own separateness from the material world. The stars were made to allow him to perceive the “perpetual presence of the sublime.” Visible every night, they demonstrate that God is ever-present. They never lose their power to move us. We retain our original sense of wonder even when viewing familiar aspects of nature anew.
The goal of science is to provide a theory of nature, but man has not yet attained a truth broad enough to comprehend all of nature’s forms and phenomena. Emerson identifies nature and spirit as the components of the universe. He defines nature as everything separate from the inner individual — nature, art, other men, our own bodies. In common usage, nature refers to the material world unchanged by man. Art is nature in combination with the will of man. Emerson explains that he will use the word “nature” in both its common and its philosophical meanings in the essay.
“Beauty,” Emerson examines nature’s satisfaction of a nobler human requirement, the desire for beauty. The perception of nature’s beauty lies partly in the structure of the eye itself, and in the laws of light.
Emerson presents three properties of natural beauty. First, nature restores and gives simple pleasure to a man. It reinvigorates the overworked, and imparts a sense of well-being and of communion with the universe.
Secondly, nature works together with the spiritual element in man to enhance the nobility of virtuous and heroic human actions. There is a particular affinity between the processes of nature and the capabilities of man.
Thirdly, Emerson points out the capacity of natural beauty to stimulate the human intellect, which uses nature to grasp the divine order of the universe. Because action follows upon reflection, nature’s beauty is visualized in the mind, and expressed through creative action. The love of beauty constitutes taste; its creative expression, art.