American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions
Oxford University Press, 1993 - Philosophy - 355 pages
Transcendentalism is well-known as a peculiarly American philosophical and religious movement. Less well-known is the extent to which such famous Transcendentalists as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau drew on religions of Asia for their inspiration. Arthur Versluis offers a comprehensive study of the relationship between the American Transcendentalists and Asian religions. He argues that an influx of new information about these religions shook nineteenth-century American religious consciousness to the core. With the publication of ever more material on Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, the Judeo-Christian tradition was inevitably placed as just one among a number of religious traditions. Fundamentalists and conservatives denounced this influx as a threat, but the Transcendentalists embraced it, poring over the sacred books of Asia to extract ethical injunctions, admonitions to self-transcendence, myths taken to support Christian doctrines, and manifestations of a supposed coming universal religion. The first major study of this relationship since the 1930s, American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions is also the first to consider the post-Civil War Transcendentalists, such as Samuel Johnson and William Rounseville Alger. Examining the entire range of American Transcendentalism, Versluis's study extends from the beginnings of Transcendentalist Orientalism in Europe to its continuing impact on twentieth-century American culture. This exhaustive and enlightening work sheds important new light on the history of religion in America, comparative religion, and nineteenth-century American literature and popular culture.
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A. K. Coomaraswamy Alcott Alger American Transcendentalism Asia Asian religions assimilation attempts believe Bhagavad Gita Boston Brahma Brownson Buddha Buddhism Child China Chinese Christianity Clarke's comparative religion Confucian Confucius Conway Conway's cultures dentalist Dial discussion divine doctrine East Eastern teachings Emerson and Thoreau Emersonian Transcendentalism essay European faith Frothingham Gnostic Harbinger Hegel Hindoo Hindu Hinduism Ibid India influence intellectual Islam James Freeman Clarke journal late Transcendentalists later Laws of Manu literary religion Lydia Maria Child Melville Melville's mind missionaries moral movement mysticism nature Neoplatonic nineteenth century Oriental Religions Orientalist Peabody Persian philosophy Platonic poem poetry progress Radical references regard religious traditions René Guénon sacred Samuel Johnson scendentalists scriptures self-transcendence Sir William Jones soul spiritual Taoism tendency texts thought Tran transcendence Transcendentalist periodicals translation truth Unitarian universal religion Vedanta Vedas Vishnu vision Walden Weiss Western Messenger world religions writing wrote York