François Marie Charles Fourier, 1772 - 1837

François Marie Charles Fourier, a major influence on Transcendentalist reform, was a brilliant radical theorist, utopian socialist, mystic sensualist, and eccentric visionary.  An honest consideration of the faults of Western civilization led him to conclude that there was a compelling need to regenerate society anew from the ground up.  Rejecting contemporary relations, institutions, philosophy, and morality as fundamentally flawed and hopelessly out of touch with "divine Providence," he relied instead on an essential trust in the goodness of human nature.  His social theory was based on the idea that human "Passions" are innate and designed to be followed, or, in his words, "Attractions are proportional to Destinies."  If all persons were free to enjoy sensuality, love, wealth, luxury, art, and food, he felt, social discord would cease to exist.  While orthodox religion attempts to thwart the passions, Fourier was convinced that instead they should be harnessed, for the good of humanity.  A stable and fulfilling economic system could be constructed by allowing each person--through following freely chosen activities, or "Attractive Labor"--to contribute in a unique manner to the developing community.
Fourier proposed large communes, or "Phalanxes," of 1,620 members in which the reformers would enjoy Association and Harmony.  Members would express all twelve major Passions and happily engage in gardening, arboriculture, light industry, operas, and orgies.  The New England Transcendentalists eagerly embraced Fourier's reformist zeal, and, in 1844, the Brook Farm community reshaped itself into a Fourierist organization.