The Rise Of Transcendentalism Essay Research Paper — страница 4

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firm basis, and which shall be able to survive the storms of human passions.29 To Norton, such a rejection of the existence of divine miracles, and the assertion of an intuitive communion with God, amounted to a rejection of Christianity itself. In his reply to the Transcendentalists, “A Discourse on the Latest Form of Infidelity,” Norton wrote that their position “strikes at root of faith in Christianity,” and he reiterated the “orthodox” Unitarian belief that inner revelation was inherently unreliable and a potential lure away from the truths of religion. The religion of which they speak, therefore, exists merely, if it exists at all, in undefined and unintelligible feelings, having reference perhaps to certain imaginations, the result of impressions communicated in

childhood, or produced by the visible signs of religious belief existing around us, or awakened by the beautiful and magnificent spectacles which nature presents.30 Despite its dismissive intent and tone, Norton’s blast against Transcendentalism is an excellent recapitulation of their religious philosophy. The crucial difference consisted in the respect accorded to “undefined and unintelligible feelings.” The miracles controversy revealed how far removed the Harvard rebels had grown from their theological upbringing. It opened a window onto the fundamental dispute between the Transcendentalists and the Unitarians, which centered around the relationship between God, nature and humanity. The heresy of the Transcendentalists (for which the early Puritans had hanged people) was

to countenance mysticism and pantheism, or the beliefs in the potential of the human mind to commune with God and in a God who is present in all of nature, rather than unequivocally distinct from it. Nevertheless, the Transcendentalists continued to think of themselves as Christians and to articulate their philosophy within a Christian theological framework, although some eventually moved past Christianity (as Emerson did in evolving his idea of an “oversoul”) or abandoned organized religion altogether.