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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter of this book provides an overview of the key concepts discussed in the book. The book sets out to shed light on what is specific to American Transcendentalism by comparing it with the atheistic vision of German philosophers and theologians like Ludwig Feuerbach and Arthur Schopenhauer. The term "atheism" literally means "without theism" or without belief in the existence of God. However, this study does argue that atheism was part of the discursive and religious context from which American Transcendentalism emerged. The first published works of the young Transcendentalists led to an enormous outcry from the representatives of Unitarian establishment. Within the Unitarian-Transcendentalist tradition, which is the focus here, atheism had many other faces. The book examines the distinctive contribution of German "infidels" whose alleged atheism eventually was to move beyond a mere debunking of historical Christianity.

Keywords: atheism; existence of God; historical Christianity; Transcendentalism

10.1163/ej.9789004161665.i-224.5
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