American Transcendentalists and Swedenborgianism

Gratitude makes us young.For the invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the everyday.    —Ralph Waldo Emerson,    from Attitudes of Gratitude by MaryJane Ryan

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American thinker, lecturer, essayist and poet, best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century with his essay on Nature in 1836.

Transcendentalists desired to ground their religion and philosophy in transcendental, higher global principles that were not based on, or falsifiable by, sensuous experience, but derived from the inner spiritual or mental essence of the human. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant had called “all knowledge transcendental which is concerned not with specific objects but with our mode of knowing
them .”

While the American transcendentalists were largely unacquainted with German philosophy in the original, they did read translations of it and were well aware of the mystical spiritualism of Swedish Emanuel Swedenborg.  They also knew of his essays from writing based on them by Thomas Carlyle, William Blake & , Edward Gibbon and the French writers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Madame Germaine de Staël.

OTOH, they were though very I familiar with the Lake poets, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and then the later Romantics like , Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Geo. Byron and John Keats. The American transcendental movement is considered a joyful response & continuation to its British counterpart.

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