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By Hurth, E.

This publication units out to make clear what ios particular to American Transcendentalism by way of evaluating it with the atheistic imaginative and prescient of German philosophers and theologians like Ludwig Feuerbach and Arthur Schopenhauer.

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Furness, Remarks, 34, 51. William Henry Furness, “The Miracles of Jesus,” Christian Examiner 22 (1837): 285. ” Emerson advanced his address “through the forms already existing,” but he was not willing to base his religious belief on debatable historical “evidences” (CW, 1:92). Miracles were of one piece with the normal processes of nature; they exemplified the premise Emerson appropriated from Schleiermacher’s discourses on religion, namely that “man’s life was a miracle” and that therefore “the very word Miracle, as pronounced by Christian churches, gives a false impression; it is a Monster” (CW, 1:81).

I am entering into acquaintance with Goethe who just died,” he wrote to Mary Moody Emerson on August 19, 1832 (L, 1:354). Significantly, William, too, had become acquainted with Goethe at a time when, under the impact of his Göttingen studies, he was gradually moving away from the claims of historical Christianity. “To William, beset by distressing doubt at Göttingen,” Edward Waldo Emerson writes, “it occurred that, but eighty miles away at Weimar, lived the wisest man of the age. He forthwith sought him out, was kindly received, and laid his doubts before him.

This rejection of a Christianity of “forms” forced Emerson all the more to affirm a new basis of religion. If “decent forms” and “saving ordinances” could only serve as the “sandy foundations of falsehoods,” then the proof of the validity of revelation had to be sought somewhere else—not in historical and external evidences but rather within the heart (W, 11:21). In this context a crucial impetus to “sever the strained cord” that “bound” Emerson to the Second Church was provided by the experiential theology of Schleiermacher.

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