David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Political Theory 33 (4):448 - 471 (2005)
Does Henry Thoreau have a positive politics? Depending on how one conceives of politics, answers will vary. Hannah Arendt famously portrayed Thoreau's commitment to the sanctity of individual conscience as distinctly unpolitical. More recent commentators grant that Thoreau has a politics, but they characterize it as profoundly negative in character. This essay argues that Thoreau indeed sponsors a positive politics-a politics of performing conscience. The performance of conscience before an audience transforms the invocation of consciencefrom a personally political act into a publicly political one. The aim of the performance is to provoke one's neighbors into a process of individual self-reform that will make them capable of properly vigilant democratic citizenship and conscientious political agitation. I establish this claim through a sustained reading of a relatively neglected text that deserves wider attention in political theory: Thoreau's 1859 lecture defending insurrectionary activities by radical abolitionist John Brown.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Lee A. McBride (2013). Insurrectionist Ethics and Thoreau. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 49 (1):29-45.
Similar books and articles
Henry David Thoreau (1996). Political Writings. Cambridge University Press.
Nancy L. Rosenblum (1981). Thoreau's Militant Conscience. Political Theory 9 (1):81-110.
David Scott (2007). Rewalking Thoreau and Asia: 'Light From the East' for 'a Very Yankee Sort of Oriental'. Philosophy East and West 57 (1):14-39.
Carl J. Dull (2012). Zhuangzi and Thoreau: Wandering, Nature, and Freedom. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (2):222-239.
Rosalyn Diprose (2008). Arendt and Nietzsche on Responsibility and Futurity. Philosophy and Social Criticism 34 (6):617-642.
Jannika Bock (2008). Concord in Massachusetts, Discord in the World: The Writings of Henry Thoreau and John Cage. Lang.
Alice MacLachlan, An Ethic of Plurality: Reconciling Politics and Morality in Hannah Arendt. History and Judgment: IWM JVF Conference Vol. 21.
Peter Dalton (1998). Possessiveness and Embodiment. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 12 (2):187-201.
Brian Walker (2001). Thoreau on Democratic Cultivation. Political Theory 29 (2):155-189.
John Dunn (1996). The History of Political Theory and Other Essays. Cambridge University Press.
Lucas Swaine (2011). The Ascendant Liberal Conscience: A Response to Three Critics. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (4):521-529.
Lucas Swaine (2011). The Liberal Conscience: An Overview. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (4):505-507.
Daniel P. Sulmasy (2008). What is Conscience and Why is Respect for It so Important? Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 29 (3):135-149.
Added to index2011-05-29
Total downloads7 ( #214,501 of 1,689,863 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #111,786 of 1,689,863 )
How can I increase my downloads?