The Dusty World: Wildness and Higher Laws in Thoreau's Walden

Ethics and the Environment 1 (2):75 - 90 (1996)
To the attentive reader, the high contrast between Thoreau's depiction of a life in conformity to "Higher Laws" and his depiction of Wildness can seem to be yet another endorsement of nature/culture dualism. I argue that while such a dualism frames much of Thoreau's "experiment" at Walden Pond, a deeper understanding of the relationship between Higher Laws and Wildness emerges which is decidedly nondualistic, an understanding for which I invoke the Buddhist image of the Dusty World. I conclude with some reflections on Val Plumwood's recent work on the nature/culture dualisms at work in current discussions about wilderness.
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