Transcendentalism was America’s first major intellectual movement. At that time, the country was led by the first generation to have been born the Revolutionary War – a generation that had never known anything other than independence.
People in this generation couldn’t understand their parents’ reverence for European culture and philosophy, a reverence that was still strong in spite of the Americans’ desire for independence.
The film is Transcendentalist in a couple of ways: first, the emphasis on emotions rather than logic and duty.
Preston’s moral awakening comes when he gets in touch with his emotions, which suggests that true morality is an emotional experience.
The human mind is above all an organ of perception. The senses only tell us about the physical world, but the most important realities are those that lie beyond the physical world – things that we cannot see, feel, or hear, but must sense through our spirituality.
If we place too much trust in the senses, we will end up forgetting that these other realities even exist, and this will cause both philosophical errors and spiritual pain.To them, America was its own nation, on its own continent, with its own laws and customs, and it needed to have its own art, culture, and philosophy as well – even its own religion!Transcendentalism was designed to fill all of these roles.Transcendentalism never really caught on in professional philosophy, possibly because of the structure of its arguments.As we saw in section 2, transcendentalism rejected both rationalism and empiricism, pointing out the limitations in both logic and observation.Second, Preston ends up rejecting authority, social expectations, and the whole system that he’s been raised in. Many video games have “ranger” or “druid” characters (e.g.Dota 2, Warcraft, or Neverwinter Nights), and they often seem a little like transcendentalists.What we think of as “logic” is really just a heavily formalized version of instinct or intuition.While some logic is helpful in clearing up our thoughts, we shouldn’t be too dependent on it.We only (or at least mainly) understand the world through experience and the senses.Philosophy and science should proceed by carefully observing the world, building up a supply of concrete facts, and then analyzing those facts.