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The Political Thought of Henry David ThoreauPrivatism and the Practice of Philosophy$
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Jonathan McKenzie

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813166308

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813166308.001.0001

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Reflective Simplification

Reflective Simplification

The Questions of a Philosophical Life

(p.31) 1 Reflective Simplification
The Political Thought of Henry David Thoreau

Jonathan McKenzie

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter examines the ways in which the ancient philosophical act of reflective simplification animates Thoreau’s philosophical project. Thoreau’s journals and letters provide ample evidence of a Socratic way of practicing philosophy as a way of life, and these private sources reflect heavily on Thoreau’s public writings. Finally, the chapter provides a reading of Walden that isolates Thoreau’s use of persistent questioning, a pedagogical and philosophical technique mastered by the late Stoics.

Keywords:   Thoreau, Epictetus, Socrates, Simplification

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