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This article is about the 19th-century American movement.
Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in the eastern United States. It arose as a reaction, to protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality at the time.The doctrine of the Unitarian church as taught at Harvard Divinity School was of particular interest.
Transcendentalism emerged from “English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried Herderand Friedrich Schleiermacher, the skepticism of David Hume“, and the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kantand German Idealism. Miller and Versluis regard Emanuel Swedenborg as a pervasive influence on transcendentalism. It was also strongly influenced by Hindu texts on philosophy of the mind and spirituality, especially the Upanishads.
A core belief of transcendentalism is in the inherent goodness of people and nature. Adherents believe that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual, and they have faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent.
Transcendentalism emphasizes subjective intuition over objective empiricism. Adherents believe that individuals are capable of generating completely original insights with little attention and deference to past masters.