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» » Thoreau's Importance for Philosophy (American Philosophy)
Thoreau's Importance for Philosophy (American Philosophy)


Rick Anthony Furtak,Jonathan Ellsworth,James D. Reid


Thoreau's Importance for Philosophy (American Philosophy)


Literature & Fiction

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Fordham University Press; 1 edition (August 14, 2012)




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Thoreau's Importance for Philosophy (American Philosophy) by Rick Anthony Furtak,Jonathan Ellsworth,James D. Reid

The philosophical significance of Henry David Thoreau's life and writings is far from settled. Although his best-known book, Walden, is admired as a classic work of American literature, it has not yet been widely recognized as an important philosophical text. In fact, many members of the academic philosophical community in America would be reluctant to classify Thoreau as a philosopher at all. The purpose of this volume is to remedy this neglect, to explain Thoreau's philosophical significance, and to argue that we can still learn from his polemical conception of philosophy.

Thoreau sought to establish philosophy as a way of life, and to root our philosophical, conceptual affairs in more practical or existential concerns. His work provides us with a sustained meditation on the appropriate conduct of life and the importance of leading our lives with integrity, avoiding what he calls "quiet desperation." The contributors to this volume approach Thoreau's writings from different angles, collectively bringing to light what, in his own distinctive and idiosyncratic way, this major American thinker has meant to multiple areas of philosophical inquiry, and why he is still relevant. They show how the imagination, according to Thoreau, might be related to the disclosure of truth; they illuminate the nuances of embodied consciousness and explore the links between moral character and scientific knowledge. They clarify Thoreau's project by locating it in relation to earlier philosophical authors and traditions, noting the ways in which he either anticipated or influenced a host of later thinkers. They explore his aesthetic views, his naturalism, his theory of self, his ethical principles, and his political stances. Most importantly, they show how Thoreau returns philosophy to its roots as the love of wisdom.

I wrote my undergraduate philosophy thesis on Thoreau, and this volume was immensely useful. I would recommend it highly to anyone with a scholarly interest in Thoreau or transcendentalism in general.
Deleuze once commeted that it was a real shame that Americans flock to French theory while ignoring the riches of their own tradition. Furtak and Reid do more than anyone since Cavell's _Senses of Walden_ to show that Thoreau is a thinker of immense importance and signficance. A rich and rewarding read from beginning to end.

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