Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862) - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Nature and Society

Thoreau's writings everywhere bear the stamp of aboriginal practicality that also made him unique as a person. Society and nature were not for Thoreau, as they were for so many romantic thinkers, dialectical opposites whose inner identity was simply in need of philosophical explication. For him they involved a genuine contrast that he had personally experienced as a professional "saunterer" in and around Concord. Nature represented for Thoreau an "absolute freedom and wildness," whereas society provided "a freedom and culture merely civil." In his writing, as in his life, he attempted to implement the view that man should be regarded "as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society." It is only through a sustained involvement with the vast "personality" of nature that man can simplify his existence, clarify his senses, drive life into a corner...

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This section contains 1,474 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862) Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862) from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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