tran·​scen·​den·​tal·​ism ˌtran(t)-ˌsen-ˈden-tə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce transcendentalism (audio)
: a philosophy that emphasizes the a priori conditions of knowledge and experience or the unknowable character of ultimate reality or that emphasizes the transcendent as the fundamental reality
: a philosophy that asserts the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical
: the quality or state of being transcendental
especially : visionary idealism
transcendentalist adjective or noun

Examples of transcendentalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For much of the year, Alan Lightman lives less than a mile from Walden Pond, the Massachusetts spot where Henry David Thoreau popularized transcendentalism and its ideas about a direct connection to the divine through nature. Danny Heitman, WSJ, 16 Mar. 2023 By 1840 he was well known both as a public lecturer and as the titular head of that newfangled doctrine, transcendentalism. Brenda Wineapple, The New York Review of Books, 8 Apr. 2021 Though The Will to Live is lyrically rich with a kind of punk transcendentalism, the album sounds anything but natural. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 9 Sep. 2022 So was exploring how the ideals of transcendentalism (the philosophical movement led by Ralph Waldo Emerson) influenced his character. Gregg Goldstein, Variety, 8 Sep. 2022 Hickey goes on to read Gober’s stacks of newspapers and boxes of rat poison placed within a paint-by-numbers wraparound wallpaper of a New England forest as situated between the history of American transcendentalism and the raging AIDS crisis. Jarrett Earnest, The New York Review of Books, 8 June 2022 At the center of the story are Ralph Waldo Emerson and his protégé, Henry David Thoreau, who championed transcendentalism as a way to break with dogmas of the Old World so that Americans would be empowered to think for themselves. Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Dec. 2021 While Emerson was diving into nature to become a transparent eyeball, forging the new, homegrown American philosophy of transcendentalism, Poe was cobbling together a myriad of sources in a wild patchwork. Colin Dickey, The New Republic, 21 July 2021 Its workshops span the metaphysical and spiritual, lending the center an air of bohemian transcendentalism. Gregory Thomas,, 31 Oct. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'transcendentalism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1803, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of transcendentalism was in 1803

Dictionary Entries Near transcendentalism

Cite this Entry

“Transcendentalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

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