or an Emerson, but the chances are that he is neither.
Transcendentalism, like all idealistic movements, had its “lunatic fringe,” its camp-followers of excitable, unstable visionaries.
The very name, like the name Methodist
, was probably bestowed upon it in mockery, and this whole perturbation of staid New England
had its humorous side.
Witness the career of Bronson Alcott
It is also true that the glorious affirmations of these seers can be neither proved nor dis° proved.
They made no examination and they sought no validation of consciousness.
An explorer in search of the North Pole must bring back proofs of his journey, but when a Transcendentalist affirms that he has reached the far heights of human experience and even caught sight of the gods sitting on their thrones, you and I are obliged to take his word for it. Sometimes we hear such a man gladly, but it depends upon the man, not upon the trustworthiness of the method.
Finally it should be observed that the Transcendental movement was an exceedingly complex one, being both literary, philosophic, and religious; related also to the subtle thought of the Orient, to medieval mysticism, and to the English Platonists
; touched throughout by the French Revolutionary