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MonkeyNotes-Walden by Henry David Thoreau
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HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Transcendentalism is a philosophy that is centered on the belief that mind goes beyond matter and that man can know more than he really sees or experiences. The Transcendentalists believed that the invisible spirit is the only true reality and that each human being is equally a part of that spirit or "over-soul," which would give guidance to, in, and through a person. The Transcendentalists were staunch individualists, defending the right of each person to follow his own conscience. They were also social reformers with some even electing to experiment in communal living.


During the mid 1800's, Transcendentalism became a popular philosophy in New England. Ralph Waldo Emerson was the outstanding spokesman for the Transcendental movement, but other prominent writers and philosophers, like Henry D. Thoreau, George Ripley, Margaret Fuller, and Ellery Channing, also promoted the philosophy. Between 1840 and 1844, they published a journal called The Dial, which was criticized for being too obscure.

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