tran·​scen·​den·​tal·​ism | \ ˌtran(t)-ˌsen-ˈden-tə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce transcendentalism (audio) , -sən- \

Definition of transcendentalism

1 : 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
2 : a philosophy that asserts the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical
3 : the quality or state of being transcendental especially : visionary idealism

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Other Words from transcendentalism

transcendentalist \ ˌtran(t)-​ˌsen-​ˈden-​tə-​list How to pronounce transcendentalism (audio) , -​sən-​ \ adjective or noun

Examples of transcendentalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Its workshops span the metaphysical and spiritual, lending the center an air of bohemian transcendentalism. Gregory Thomas,, "At Esalen, famous Big Sur retreat center, hands-on healing goes digital during coronavirus," 31 Oct. 2020 Since its beginnings, Esalen has been hailed as the heir to the American transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau, and it’s been dismissed as the festival grounds for navel-gazing and Boomer narcissism. Wallace Baine,, "What’s next for the Esalen Institute?," 5 Sep. 2019 Patience Worth’s strange diction, large output, and mix of transcendentalism and Christianity seemed at odds with Curran, a homemaker who dropped out of school at 13. Joy Lanzendorfer, Longreads, "Ghost Writer: The Story of Patience Worth, the Posthumous Author," 14 June 2018 One of the prime doctrines of transcendentalism is that God, or divinity, permeates every aspect of nature. National Geographic, "Darwin's Theory of Evolution Roiled U.S. on Eve of Civil War," 5 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transcendentalism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of transcendentalism

1803, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for transcendentalism

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The first known use of transcendentalism was in 1803

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Cite this Entry

“Transcendentalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of transcendentalism

: a philosophy which says that thought and spiritual things are more real than ordinary human experience and material things

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