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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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The Phenomenology of Freedom

(p.107) 4 Wildness
The Political Thought of Henry David Thoreau

Jonathan McKenzie

University Press of Kentucky

Thoreau’s use of wildness as a political-theoretical category is often misunderstood as an effort to uncover a deeper engagement with the political. This chapter argues that wildness instead constitutes Thoreau’s experience of freedom as it is lived through his various adventures. Thoreau’s natural history and excursions are analyzed to provide an understanding of Thoreau’s privileging of the instinctual, visceral self. Finally, the chapter concludes with a long reading of “Walking,” Thoreau’s greatest essay, in which it is argued that the art of the walk provides the necessary preparation for a deeply lived philosophical life.

Keywords:   Thoreau, Wildness, The Maine Woods, Walking, Freedom

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