2 May 2022


American Transcendentalism

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Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Research Paper

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Pages: 5

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This paper would be dedicated to assessment of the interrelation between the way the rhetoric (verbal/and/or visual) and transcendentalism work together. In other words, it is possible to develop a hypothesis that there is a direct interrelation between these aspects of human persecution and attitude to the world, surrounding them – its physical perception and imagination and intuition of the particular things, which take their places in daily lives.

First of all, it is essential to note that since the times of Aristotle, the investigation of the rhetoric was mainly focused on the verbal discourse’ persuasive aspect in forensic, political and ceremonial domains. The rhetoric is mainly associated with doxa, persuasion and public discourse – in terms of their development in the world and without the certainty, absolute knowledge or fixity (Cloud, 1998); (Foss, 2004);(Burgchardt, 2005).As the political and cultural aspects of life have changed, the emphasis was shifted to discussion of the value, status and scope of rhetorical investigations as a discipline. One of such concoctions may be referred as the increasing impact, which is made by the visual communication (Condit and Lucaites, 1998); (LUP Academic, 2014).

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It is claimed by the scholars that transcendentalism is a formal word, which pertains to description of the simple idea. In equal manner, people, both males and females, have the basic knowledge about themselves as well as about their environment, which, in turn, “transcends” or goes beyond the issues, which may be seen by them, tasted, heard, felt or touched. Such knowledge is mainly derived from the imagination and intuition rather than from the senses or logic. It means that people can trust themselves and thus, their authority regarding the right and wrong issues is dominative over others (Versluis, 1993).

It is possible to define the transcendentalist as an individual, accepting the ideal not form the perspective of the religious beliefs – the core emphasis in such case is put on the realization of the life relationships. Those individuals, who have accepted such way of thinking, have integrated their philosophy in the Transcendental Club, which organized the regular meetings in George Ripley’s Boston home. “The Dial” is the chief publication of the Club - it was edited by Margaret Fuller – the feminist and political radical. She has also published her own book – “Women of the Nineteenth Century”, which was one of the most famous among the contemporary publications. There was set of other extraordinary thinkers – the members of the Club, but the leadership position was occupied by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Gura, 1992).

It is essential to note that Emerson has got his degree in Harvard, where he has furthermore been a lecturer and essayist. In addition, he has been recognized as the first truly “American” thinker. His considerations were mainly referred to the following trend- there is a need for Americans to stop thinking as Europeans – as they need to establish their own national and cultural identity. In addition, it was claimed by Ralph Waldo Emerson that people, in their initial state, are good and that the potential of each particular individual is limitless. The major aspects of his inspiration have motivated his colleagues for referring to their mind and imagination as well as into art and nature and in such way, to find the answers for the most compelling life questions. In addition, the intellectual contributions of Ralph Waldo Emerson for the philosophical considerations of transcendentalism may be referred as inspiriting for the reformation as well as the uniquely American idealism (ushistory.org, 2015).

Semiotic Theory

In the scope of this section, it is essential to refer to the fact that it explains the things and considerations, relating to the process, pertaining to finding the meaning via the means of signs’ perception and their further interpretation (Eco, 1976). It is indicated in the scope of this model that the way, the perception is processed by humans, is related to the actual things, which exist in the physical world as well as they pertain to the referred object and to the particular concept or idea, associated with it (Lotman, 2001). More than that, the image or concept, represented in human mind, also pertains to such system of constrains.

Assessment of the interrelation between the verbal text and semiology

There is a set of disputable issues among the semiotics, pertaining to the amount, to which there is an option of sharing the meaning of visual images and their further understanding, or if such meaning may be grounded on some prior verbal knowledge(Danesi, 2007). It is claimed by Roland Barthes in the scope of his “Rhetoric of the Image” that the symbolic meaning of the image is usually consistent with the verbal text. Additional statement, made by the scholar, pertains to the fact that for achievement of the shared meaning, the verbal text should be in compliance with the visual evidence (Mirzoeff, 2002). Even while taking into account the fact that there is an option for the image or text to come first, the visual representation (without the text) is still too ambiguous (Margolin, 1995); (Evans and Hall, 1999).

Barthes’ opinion regarding the semiotics, was opposed by Kress and van Leeuwen in the scope in their book “Reading Images”. It was indicated by the philosopher that the text may be referred as unimportant factor due to the fact that there is an option of accomplishing the same message by the visual images, but in different manner (Kress and Leeuwen, 1996); ( Edwards and Winkler, 1997).

Comparison analysis of the Stylized Conceptual Images and Uncoded Naturalistic Representations

It is claimed by the scholars that the way of image’ simplification or generalization may determine its further applicability to the set of the culturally-shared notions and standard ideas. As an evident example, it is possible to refer to the graphic picture of a house (which, in turn, may be considered as a standard one - instead of being perceived as a detailed photograph) – in such case it becomes an analogy of human perception of the house rather than the particular and specific building. From another perspective, the fairly detailed painting as well as the photo, may be considered as the representation of some real life issues and that is why, no code is implied by such image (Kohler, 2014).

There is a set of particular and specific ways for depicting the images, while they apply the accompanying codes for representation of the specific underlying meaning. For example, in the case when the core purpose of the advertising campaign is to reach the maximal number of people - as the target audience, there is a high probability that the experts, elaborating such campaign, would make the set of the efforts for using the coded picture of a child and in such manner, make it with the minimal number of details and a rather standardized one (in some cases it may be represented in black and white). In such manner, the object may be referred as the sign and a child’s representation (Argersinger and Cole, 2014).

Finally, it is essential to refer to integrated considerations, pertaining to the set of different theoretical approaches (regarding the perception of the things surrounding human being both by the verbal and visual means and though the transcendentalism – as the knowledge, derived from imagination and intuition), which have been discussed in the scope of this paper and refer to the considerations of Emerson, who in turn, has developed an idea that the whole nature should not be perceived as the particular verbal expressions. The core argumentation for such statement is the fact that it offers the insight into the universal as well as the spiritual reality is symbolized by it (Buell, 2009).

From both perspectives - rhetoric and transcendentalism, nature should be perceived as the metaphor for the human mind as well as allege that there is a direct interrelation and correspondence between the material laws and moral norms. It means that everyone should be provided with an option of accessing this correspondence and its understanding and to the comprehending the universe laws (Jasinski,2001).


It is possible to make a final statement regarding the fact that the proper basis for ethics and religion is shaped by the nature form the entire set of the perspectives, discussed and analyzed in the scope of this paper. In addition, referring to the particular natural aspects ,which are also represented in the corresponding literature as the commodities, cannot be considered as exhausting to the lessons, taught it as human beings are provided with an option of progressing to their perception of the highest possible level.

People are particularly susceptible to the moral interpretation of the nature, and that is why, there is a need of unification of al participants of the natural circle – as each particular object is nothing more than the microcosm of the universe.


Argersinger, J.L., Cole, P. (2014) Toward a Female Genealogy of Transcendentalism . University of Georgia Press

Buell, L. (2009) Emerson. Harvard University Press

Burgchardt, C.R. (2005)  Readings in Rhetorical Criticism   (3rd ed.). State College, Pennsylvania: Strata Publishing. 

Cloud, D. L. (1998) The rhetoric of <family values>: Scapegoating, utopia, and the privatization of social responsibility.  Western Journal of Communication , 62, 387-419.

Condit, C. M. & Lucaites, J. L. (1993) Crafting quality: America’s Anglo-African word. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Danesi, M. (2007) The Quest for Meaning: A Guide to Semiotic Theory and Practice . University of Toronto Press

Eco, U. (1976) A Theory of Semiotics. Indiana University Press

 Edwards, J. L. & Winkler, C. K. (1997). Representative forms and the visual ideograph: The Iwo Jima image in editorial cartoons. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 83, 289-310.

Evans, J., Hall, S. (1999) Visual Culture: The Reader . SAGE

Foss, S. (2004)  Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice  (3rd ed.). Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press. 

Gura, P.F. (2002) American Transcendentalism: A History . Macmillan

Jasinski, J. (2001).  Sourcebook on rhetoric: Key concepts in contemporary rhetorical studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Kohler, M. (2014) Miles of Stare: Transcendentalism and the Problem of Literary Vision in Nineteenth-Century America. University of Alabama Press

Kress, G.R., Leeuwen, T. (1996) Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design . Psychology Press

Lotman, Y.M. (2001) Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture . I.B.Tauris

LUP Academic (2014) Verbal and Visual Rhetoric in a Media World. Retrieved from: http://www.lup.nl/product/verbal-and-visual-rhetoric-in-a-media-world/

Margolin, V. (1995) The Idea of Design . MIT Press

Mirzoeff, N. (2002) The Visual Culture Reader . Psychology Press,

ushistory.org (2015) Transcendentalism, An American Philosophy . Retrieved from: http://www.ushistory.org/us/26f.asp

Versluis, A. (1993) American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions . Oxford University Press

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). American Transcendentalism.


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