Transcendentalism – Idealistic Philosophical and Social Movement

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau started the transcendentalist movement in America in the Nineteenth Century. People in today’s society seem to follow each other instead of following their own thoughts. People believe they need lots of possessions in life to achieve success. Technology and money have made people reliant on them and they can not go without either one. In Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson and in Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, the authors express nonconformity, simplicity, and corruption of society in order to convey transcendentalism.

Nonconformity allows people not to conform to rules or practice everyone else follows. People lose sight of themselves when they conform to the ways of society. Envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide (Emerson 261). Emerson says this to express that if people copy other people they kill their originality. People often seem afraid to go against what everyone else believes even when they do not believe the same beliefs. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members (Emerson 261). Society does not want their members to rebel against their beliefs. According to Malcolm X, I admired any Negro man who has never had himself conked, or who has had the sense to get rid of it – as I finally did ( 283). Malcolm X realizes that he does not have to change his hair to fit in with everyone. Many people did not have their hair conked, so Malcolm never conked his hair anymore. Conforming to the ways of others only hurts people and never helps them as a person. Dictionary.com states that simplicity as absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainless. Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond to live his life in the simplest way. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! (Walden 91). Thoreau says simplicity often to express that living in society people do not have to a lot to live good. Many families live in a big house with multiple rooms and only use a couple of rooms. Instead of three meals a day,… eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportions ( Walden 91).

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Families do not need lots of dishes when they consist of three to five people. Owning a lot of unneeded items only makes clutter homes when the items do not really get used regularly. The more items people own does not make their lives better or them a better person. Society has easily corrupted by all the advances coming into the world. People in today society worry about either they have the latest technology instead of the basic necessities of life. Computers, cell phones, and internet corrupt people’s lives because they no longer have to go into public to shop, talk to people, and pay their bills. We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. Members of every socioeconomic bracket can and do deluge themselves with products (Hill). The internet allows people to shop twenty-four online, so people lose the need to leave their homes. Young people today rely on cell phones so much that they lose communication and academic skills. Phones allow people to just call others and see them face to face so when people come face to face they can not communicate well. Teens use slang wording in text messages so often so when the go-to spell words out they often cannot spell correctly. People rely on their phones and the internet to help them spell unknown words, and apps to work math problems out. In today’s society, People often no longer value the money they make. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him: and it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it ( Civil Disobedience 351). People often make large amounts of money and spend it on items they do not really need. People never really think about the future, so they do not prepared when a crisis happens.

The beliefs transcendentalism of nonconformity, simplicity, and corruption of society used in Emerson’s and Thoreau’s works still seem popular issues in society today. People have trouble not conforming to the views of the government and their peers. Many people think they have to have lots of things to have a good life when they really do not need a lot. Society relies heavily on technology and money that they get caught up in their phones and money that they can not function without them. People should live the way they think works best for them.

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