Difference Between Romanticism and Transcendentalism

Romanticism and Transcendentalism are closely related, however, there are many concepts that have to do with both and that makes the difference between them. Transcendentalism and Romanticism can be seen taking as a reference to nature, individuality, philosophy and spirituality. Difference Between Romanticism and Transcendentalism

ROMANTICISM  Difference Between Romanticism and Transcendentalism

Romanticism began in Europe in the 18th century. It was an artistic, intellectual and literary movement that shaped the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The movement emphasized an aesthetic experience and the feelings it generated, identifying new emotions such as anxiety, fear, terror and horror.


Transcendentalism also began during this period. The term was coined from the “transcendental” philosophy of Immanuel Kant . The thinking of the transcendentalists was characterized by a strong faith in the power of divinity, nature, and individualism. However, these beliefs are also related to those of the romantics. On the other hand, the transcendentalists believed that God was the center of the universe and that it was to him that all respect and reverence should be kept.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the most popular transcendentalists, even now. He believes that wisdom and self-realization are the keys to growth. This concept is also related to good and evil. The lack of growth of oneself and the terror among us generates evil, while happiness and generosity lead to good deeds. The romantics also believed in some of these concepts, however, they highlighted the power of good in preventing evil.

Both Romanticism and Transcendentalism have always been movements appreciated above all, in the literary aspect. They may have been forgotten due to the expansion of ideas and contemporary modernity. Both movements are inspired by the exaltation and search for something beyond the physical; something external from human perception. During the second half of the 18th century, these were the prevailing ideas.

Romanticism encompasses aesthetic categories such as the arts, literature, and music. However, we cannot deny that a large part of the romantics were inspired by the classic ideal models. They also explored the ideas of the strange, the exquisite and the exotic; which they represented through their trades (writing or painting). On the contrary, the transcendentalists believed in a philosophy of refinement but one that was still connected to sensual motives. Transcendentalism also made references to religious motives, inner spirituality and the essence of man in the defense of nature as something pure and divine.

Key differences between Romanticism and Transcendentalism

  • Romanticism emphasized strong emotions and feelings, focusing heavily on patriotism and loyalty. On the other hand, the transcendentalists put knowledge as the central axis to achieve personal growth and thus transcend a type of intellectual spirituality. It also highlighted the power of divinity, nature, and individualism.
  • For Romanticism, it is the emotions, feelings and freedom that are above personal growth. They believed that people should act according to what they were feeling; while Transcendentalism focuses on what is beyond, what is external to human perception. Beyond reasoning and traditional norms.
  • The romantics do not emphasize the power of God in the universe, but the transcendentalists strongly believed in God and in miracles.

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