Transcendentalism VS Anti-Transendentalism

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Transcendentalism VS Anti-Transendentalism

Post  soph on Wed May 13, 2009 12:11 am

Hawthorne and Melville are both anti-transcendentalists who actually place heavy emphasis on the inner world of human minds, which is a huge part of transcendental beliefs. Hawthorne probes deep into the human mind and circles around each of the characters response to guilt and shame. this in turn reveals in depth thinking processes and the working of each individuals mind. Melville uses Captain Ahab's determination and vengeful feelings to convey his ideas on the meaning of existence, the truth that people seek, and the spiritual reality behind experience.
In Moby-Dick, there is strong emphasis on nature and its influences on the human actions and serves to foreshadow and hint events that are about to take place. The whale plays a highly significant role in the progression of the story and is THE source of motivation and drive for Captain Ahab. The captain's determinating and persistence in the search for the white whale is acting upon his intuitive feelings because he feels that he must discover and search for the ultimate meaning of existence and the spiritual reality behind experience. however, he finds the world a hostile place that does not support the laws of attraction or work in ways which suit and benefit the human spirit. The adventure story places emphasis on the unknown mystery of nature and its power to cause significant changes to human activities.
In both the Scarlet Letter and Moby Dick, Hawthorne and Melville have displayed transcendentalist ideas even though they are anti-transcendentalist authors. This is because there is always a gray area in which certain elements of either side of the arguments can be explored. Although Melville greatly used nature in his adventure story and the meaning of exisence and the reality behind experience is explored, his ultimate conclusion is that humans cannot defy the powers of nature and nothing can go according to our desires or wishes, and that it is impossible to transcend limitations. Hawthorne delves deep into the human mind in an attemp to understand its secrets and working, but the conclusion in which he had arrived at is that human are innately evil and are full of wicked thoughts.
Thoreau seems to admire nature for its beauty and mystery. However, Melville pictures nature as obstacles that prevent him from completing his mission and sees it as a destructive force (the whale). Emerson seems to believe that human beings have hope and is optimisitic because he believes that we should have self reliance so that we can transcend our current state and progress as a community. On the other hand, Hawthorne seems to see human mind as being evil and dark and contains wicked thoughts.
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Re: Transcendentalism VS Anti-Transendentalism

Post  Angel on Wed May 13, 2009 1:22 am

Hi!

I really love how you emphasized the seemingly mysterious quality and property of nature, along with all of its unknowable powers and capabilities. Its “functions” do turn out to be quite different when witnessed and contemplated through the separate eyes of the Transcendentalists and the Anti-Transcendentalists. Anti-Transcendentalists emphasize the importance of intuition and innateness in each being, which are two of the most fundamental parts of the self (I found that quite surprising!); the spiritual significance and reality behind human existence is explored in the works of Anti-Transcendentalists, as you stated, and it is found that this reality is spurred by strong desire and the will and determination to seek what the being longs for.

I think it is brilliant that you mentioned the still much-debated status and recognition of nature, that it is still a mystified element that is around all of us. The clearest distinction between the two groups of writers/thinkers, I found after reading your response, is that for Anti-Transcendentalists, the mystery of nature comes with dreadful consequences, physical restrictions/boundaries around the realms of human existence, and measurable elements. It also seems to be destructive. To Transcendentalists, it is simply beauty.


Really beautifully said/captured, Soph! Smile
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