SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

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Henry David Thoreau and the Boundaries of Philosophy

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Although Thoreau’s best-known book, Walden, is acknowledged as a classic work of American literature, it has not been widely recognized as an important philosophical text. In fact, many (arguably most) members of the academic philosophical community in America would be reluctant to classify Thoreau as a philosopher at all. In this essay, we examine why this is the case; and we seek to indicate a few ways in which Thoreau’s work makes unique and valuable contributions to philosophy. In order to make a case for Henry David Thoreau as a major American philosopher, we must also revisit some fundamental questions about the nature of philosophy and of philosophical writing.


Rick Furtak    
Colorado College
United States

James Reid    
MSU – Denver
United States


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