The Transcendentalists example

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The Transcendentalists

Part 1.

Both Emerson and Thoreau view nature as being important for understanding the meaning of true human existence. A person needs to connect with nature, experience it and embrace its true beauty in order to comprehend and appreciate the reality. In this way nature teaches and nurtures self-reliance, one of the main transcendentalism values. However, the core underlying these views is what distinguishes the ideas of the two authors from one another. For Emerson nature is the means of understanding the truth and the divine, which means that he attributes religious and spiritual hue to his views. Emerson contrasts his views to those of the traditional Christianity with its conventions and dogmas (Perkins 251).

According to him, the established church traditions cannot lead the person to understand the divine; it is through nature that one can do that. Therefore, nature is a way of changing on individual level independent from others. Thoreau, on the other hand, views nature from a more political and social angle. For Thoreau, connection with nature is something that people neglect because of commodities of civilization and materialistic attitudes. According to Thoreau, the unity of people and nature should bring about social action and change (Perkins 271). All in all, while Emerson views nature as the way of learning the divine truth on the personal level, Thoreau sees nature as a method for understanding on a larger scale embracing the whole society.

Part 2.

In his essay “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau criticizes his contemporaries for their dependence on and submission to the government. He claims that when conforming to the government people lose their “consciences” and turn into “machines” who thoughtlessly serve their government (Thoreau 291). They become “clay” in the hands of their government, which means that they do everything they are told by the authorities (Thoreau 291). This passivity and conformity are what bothers Thoreau in his contemporaries.

He no longer regards them as men because they conform to the laws and to the power of the government and the majority. In such a way the government can make people do what it wants with its overwhelming power, even if it is wrong or unjust. On the other hand, true men can do what they think is right at any time and are not restricted by any rules (Thoreau 290). If a person feels that certain rule or convention is immoral or dishonest, he/she can ignore it and not conform to it. There is one societal behavior that I would like to rebel against. It is that people often avoid telling others their true opinion directly and respond neutrally in order to avoid offending others. This often leads to misunderstandings, false beliefs, and wrong choices. I think that it is only right to say what you actually think when asked about your opinion. Even if it might be hurtful at times, it will eventually bring good.

Works Cited

Perkins, …

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