Transcendentalism and the Pursuit of Happiness

Transcendentalism = new ideas about literature, religion, culture, society, and philosophy that emerged mostly in New England in the mid-1800s. This movement focused on the power of the individual.

Major Players = Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Margaret Fuller

Major Works = Walden, Self-Reliance, Civil Disobedience, Nature

Values = nature, intuition

They believed that there was an ideal spiritual state that was more important than the physical state of being. Truth can be found within all humans, and therefore man was divine and could share divinity with all life.

The individual was more important than society. A person must be independent, true to his/herself, and trust his/her instincts. Education is important, as is God, but not in an institutional sense. Both could be sought out anywhere. Self-knowledge and self-awareness are important for a good relationship with God, a good education, and success.

What is Happiness? How would YOU find it?

Into the Wild — Jon Krakauer


In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters…