Thoreau’s politics

6 07 2009

After a literature review, this paper provides an overview of Henry D. Thoreau’s political philosophy, with emphasis on the concept of civil self-determination, which Habermas sees as comprised of both private and public autonomy, and which is present in Thoreau’s own work. I argue that he was not an anti-social anarchist, or even a pure liberal individualist, but that along with the main liberal themes of his thought there is also a democratic, even communitarian strand. Finally, I identify and describe a tension between democratic and liberal themes in both his work and contemporary Western politics, thus highlighting Thoreau’s relevance.

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