Clockwise: Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson
New England Transcendentalism of the 19th century was the first major movement of arts and letters in the United States, and it left a lasting imprint on the American mind and imagination. Richard Capobianco, a professor of philosophy at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, discusses the major themes of Transcendentalism and their far-reaching influence in American life. Among the themes he examines are the celebration of the individual and individual genius; the virtue of self-reliance; the tension between the individual and society; the view of conformity as a vice; the supreme value of nature; a new conception of divinity; the turn to sentiment; the primacy of poetry over science; and the movement's defining optimism about human nature and the future.
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