was a religious and philosophical movement that was developed during the late 1820s and 1830s in the Eastern region of the United States
as a protest to the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism
at Harvard University
and the doctrine of the Unitarian
church taught at Harvard Divinity School
. Among the transcendentalists' core beliefs was the inherent goodness of both people and nature.
Transcendentalists believed that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—ultimately corrupted the purity of the individual. They had faith that people are at their best when truly "self-reliant" and independent. It is only from such real individuals that true community could be formed.
Transcendentalism first arose among New England congregationalists, who differed from orthodox Calvinism on two issues. They rejected predestination, and they emphasized the unity instead of the trinity of God. Following the skepticism of David Hume, the transcendentalists took the stance that empirical proofs of religion were not possible.
Transcendentalism developed as a reaction against 18th Century rationalism, John Locke's philosophy of Sensualism, and the predestinationism of New England Calvinism. It is fundamentally a variety of diverse sources such as Hindu texts like the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, various religions, and German idealism.