Thoreau gravitated toward Stoic philosophy, Hindu and Buddhist insights, and European idealism and romanticism; he was an eclectic thinker weaving together various philosophies to formulate his own unique strain of American thought.This article helps readers understand Thoreau’s philosophical inclinations and his contributions to American philosophy that allow him to stand as an early innovator of American thought and literature, and it does so based on Thoreau’s concept of wildness and his penchant to preserve wildness in all he encountered.He saw the unfavorable consequences of the market not only in the natural world, but the changes in human communities, and the diminishment of life worried him.
The train explicitly represents great power, technological innovation, the rule of commerce, and cultural progress, but it also carries the connotation of the displacement of animals, the destruction of the natural world, and the pernicious powers of the market.
For Thoreau, therefore, “progress” was an ambiguous term; while the majority of Americans could honor this word, Thoreau recognized the constraints of capitalist democracy, and he was concerned about where a market-based culture was going to lead the nation and just how harmful “progress” could be.
For two years, two months, and two days from July 4, 1845 to September 6, 1847, Thoreau dedicated his life to frugality and writing the only two books published during his lifetime: : “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. He partially withdrew from society, so he could experience life more directly, being able to confront it on its simplest terms.
In the twenty-first century, scholars have begun to take Thoreau more seriously as a philosopher. Tauber focuses on Thoreau as a moral thinker, and the essays in , a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Thoreau’s life and texts; an example is Edward F.
In , Stanley Cavell addresses Thoreau as an analyst of language who works against skeptical foundations. Mooney’s article examining Thoreau’s wild ethics, which concludes with a summary of Thoreau’s ethics of care, or more accurately, Thoreau’s preservative care for all that is wild.Thoreau’s emphasis on the individual’s encounter with wildness oriented his outlook on authorship and philosophy, education, ontology, religion, ethics, and politics.The following sections of this article will show this through evidence provided in Thoreau’s literary and personal writings: his essays, books, journal entries, and letters.(1854); second to this in popularity is his essay, “Resistance to Civil Government” (1849), which was later republished posthumously as “Civil Disobedience” (1866).His fame largely rests on his role as a literary figure exploring the wilds of the natural world, not as a philosopher.To counteract this dehumanizing process, Thoreau chose to make his life an example of simple living and his writings fruits of his countercultural lifestyle.Within this context, he is probably best known for his experiment at Walden Pond. Obtaining approval from Emerson to build a cabin on Emerson’s land, Thoreau built a ten-by-fifteen-foot cabin on the shores of Walden Pond.A consumer society is based on the ability to create a desire for new products; to maintain this high level of dependence on material goods, people have to work more.These artificial cares, or desires for unneeded goods, diminished the time available for rejuvenating activities and quality interpersonal relations.He was born during a period of rapid changes in the United States.Thoreau lived during the early phases of the American Industrial Revolution and the rise of populous textile mills at the confluence of the Concord and Merrimack rivers and up and down the Merrimack River; he lived during the rise of the telegraph; he lived during the time of westward expansion, the California gold rush, the Mexican-American War, and staunch resistance to slavery from the abolitionists.