The two main people in transcendentalism were Emerson and Thoreau. They were the first two people to start advocating the theory of transcendentalism. Transcendentalism is the theory from which information and knowledge of the universal truths comes from intuition. In advocating transcendentalism, they tried to prove two theories: Intuition is key and the universal truths.
Intuition is the key. “Intuition is the highest power of the soul, it never reasons, never proves, simply perceives.”(Emerson, 208). What Emerson is saying is that perception and intake through the senses will only confuse people. Intuition is (according to Emerson) passed down from generation to generation like genetics. People are born with all knowledge, and by posing question through discussion, the universal truths may be brought out.
The universal truths are the idea that for every material object, there is an ideal. Every other creation is an attempt to re-create that one ideal object. This was one of the other points that Emerson and Thoreau tried to prove. Examples of this are one ideal chair, one ideal desk, and one ideal building. All of the different forms of these are just attempts to re-create these.
These arguments manifested themselves into writing by inspiring authors. Transcendentalism and its beliefs gave authors new intensity to views of self nature and souls. These beliefs also increased territory of human understanding and gave the authors a new self awareness.
The leaders of the antitranscendentalists were Hawthorne and Melville. They were the two greatest fiction writers of the American Renaissance. They believed in finding their own perceptions of life. They found radical contradictions in the beliefs of transcendentalism. They tried to prove the “unbridgeable gap” between human desires and human possibilities. They saw a mixture of good and evil in the loftiest of human motives.
These arguments manifested themselves into writing through poems by Emily Dickenson, whose poems show the effect of transcendentalist ideas. These beliefs also manifested themselves into writing by giving the antitranscendentalist authors the belief to have a creative imagination.