The Phenomenology of Freedom
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.
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