What does Transcendentalism have to do with reincarnation?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I don't think that Transcendentalism expressly states a belief in reincarnation.  I don't think that reincarnation is an intrinsic part of the Transcendental movement.  Part of the reason why I am not the movement had such a direct and strong embrace of reincarnation was because of its zealous assertion of the individual.  The Transcendentalists argued for the individual in present context.  This context aware conception of the individual and their actions being so important in the here and now is something that vitiates, to a certain extent, the beliefs of reincarnation, which suggests that the individual is a smaller part of a larger design.  The affirmation of self and the primacy placed on self is something that is a part of Transcendentalism, and something not entirely seen in beliefs of reincarnation.  Yet, I think that the Transcendentalists were such strong believers in non- conformity that they could have embraced thinking such as reincarnation because it was so different that traditional American religious expressions.  In the end, I think that the movement, from an intellectual point of view, has some challenges with the reconciliation of its ideas and reincarnation.  Yet, I could see thinkers of the movement embracing the thought process that advocates reincarnation because it is so fundamentally different from what traditional religion offered in America at the time.

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