Singing Oneself or Living Deliberately: Whitman and Thoreau on Individuality and Democracy

Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 53 (4):601 (2017)
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Abstract

It is for want of a man that there are so many men. It is individuals that populate the world.The average man of a land at last only is important.In 1826, nearly a decade before Alexis de Tocqueville published his epochal analysis of American individualism in Democracy in America, Ralph Waldo Emerson aptly remarked that nineteenth-century Americans lived in “the age of the first person singular.”1 Throughout the century American society was characterized by a “heightened sense of the importance of the individual” as well as by increasing individuation of ordinary life.2 The rise of a market economy dissolved households and communities into independently circulating market participants. Popular Protestant...

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