New England Transcendentalism [addendum] - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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New England Transcendentalism [addendum]

The transcendentalist departure from Unitarianism was bolstered by the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried von Herder, who suggested in The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry (1782/1833) both that the Bible is a human poetic construction, and that works just as authoritative can still be written. This was precisely Emerson's standpoint at the opening of Nature (1836), where he asked, "Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?" (1971–, 1:7). In his controversial "Divinity School Address" (1838), Emerson urged Harvard graduates to find redemption in the "Soul," not in an "eastern monarchy of a Christianity" that proceeded "as if God were dead" (1971–, 1: 82, 84).

In "Experience" (1844), Emerson developed most fully and creatively the Kantian idea that there are forms through which we acquire experience. Stating that the universe "inevitably...

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