exponents in England
We must understand its meaning if we would perceive the quality of much of the most noble and beautiful writing produced in New England
during the Golden Age
What then is the significance of the word Transcendental?
Disregarding for the moment the technical development of this term as used by German and English philosophers, it meant for Emerson
and his friends simply this: whatever transcends or goes beyond the experience of the senses.
It stressed intuition rather than sensation, direct perception of ultimate truth rather than the processes of logic.
It believed in man's ability to apprehend the absolute ideas of Truth, Rectitude, Goodness.
It resembled the Inner Light
of the Quaker
, though the Quaker
traced this to a supernatural illumination of the Holy Spirit
, while the Transcendentalist believed that a vision of the eternal realities was a natural endowment of the human mind.
It had only to be trusted.
Stated in this form, it is evident that we have here a very ancient doctrine, well known in the literature of India
and of Greece
It has been held by countless persons who have never heard of the word Transcendentalism.