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Uomini non sudditi. Disobbedienza civile e altri saggi

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Il volume raccoglie i maggiori scritti filosofici e politici di Thoreau con due saggi inediti. Oltre ai classici "Vita senza princìpi" e "Disobbedienza civile", il volume raccoglie il vibrante appello "Apologia di John Brown", il saggio "Dove ho vissuto e perché", e i due scritti inediti "Riforme e riformatori" e "Araldo della libertà". L'idea di politica, di Stato, di lib Il volume raccoglie i maggiori scritti filosofici e politici di Thoreau con due saggi inediti. Oltre ai classici "Vita senza princìpi" e "Disobbedienza civile", il volume raccoglie il vibrante appello "Apologia di John Brown", il saggio "Dove ho vissuto e perché", e i due scritti inediti "Riforme e riformatori" e "Araldo della libertà". L'idea di politica, di Stato, di libertà si presenta in questi saggi come un unico affresco sull'esigenza di saper vivere: la politica che abbraccia la vita, che si fa prassi, responsabilità, ordine prima morale e poi civile. In modo imprescindibile dal suo essere "il più vero tra gli americani", come lo definiva R. W. Emerson, Thoreau esorta a vivere a tutto tondo, a riconoscere la supremazia degli elementi naturali sull'artificio delle istituzioni umane, il primato della vita non-addomesticata e libera. Una lucida interpretazione, ancora oggi di grande attualità e forza, in cui si ripercorrono le tematiche che hanno reso Thoreau celebre in tutto il mondo: l'irriducibile libertà dell'uomo, l'invito ad obbedire alla propria coscienza più che a leggi e istituzioni, l'affermazione di un'etica basata sull'individualismo democratico.


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Il volume raccoglie i maggiori scritti filosofici e politici di Thoreau con due saggi inediti. Oltre ai classici "Vita senza princìpi" e "Disobbedienza civile", il volume raccoglie il vibrante appello "Apologia di John Brown", il saggio "Dove ho vissuto e perché", e i due scritti inediti "Riforme e riformatori" e "Araldo della libertà". L'idea di politica, di Stato, di lib Il volume raccoglie i maggiori scritti filosofici e politici di Thoreau con due saggi inediti. Oltre ai classici "Vita senza princìpi" e "Disobbedienza civile", il volume raccoglie il vibrante appello "Apologia di John Brown", il saggio "Dove ho vissuto e perché", e i due scritti inediti "Riforme e riformatori" e "Araldo della libertà". L'idea di politica, di Stato, di libertà si presenta in questi saggi come un unico affresco sull'esigenza di saper vivere: la politica che abbraccia la vita, che si fa prassi, responsabilità, ordine prima morale e poi civile. In modo imprescindibile dal suo essere "il più vero tra gli americani", come lo definiva R. W. Emerson, Thoreau esorta a vivere a tutto tondo, a riconoscere la supremazia degli elementi naturali sull'artificio delle istituzioni umane, il primato della vita non-addomesticata e libera. Una lucida interpretazione, ancora oggi di grande attualità e forza, in cui si ripercorrono le tematiche che hanno reso Thoreau celebre in tutto il mondo: l'irriducibile libertà dell'uomo, l'invito ad obbedire alla propria coscienza più che a leggi e istituzioni, l'affermazione di un'etica basata sull'individualismo democratico.

30 review for Uomini non sudditi. Disobbedienza civile e altri saggi

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Last time I reviewed this book, my review was rapidly deleted and I received a mail explaining that "if I continued to post content like this, my account might come under review for removal". Okay, let's see what happens this time round. Like millions of people round the world, I am appalled at what Trump, Bannon and the rest of their team have done in the eleven days since Trump became President of the United States. This is clearly no more than the beginning. I want to oppose them. But what ca Last time I reviewed this book, my review was rapidly deleted and I received a mail explaining that "if I continued to post content like this, my account might come under review for removal". Okay, let's see what happens this time round. Like millions of people round the world, I am appalled at what Trump, Bannon and the rest of their team have done in the eleven days since Trump became President of the United States. This is clearly no more than the beginning. I want to oppose them. But what can I do? I'm not even a US resident. Let me think aloud for a minute or two. I started off by deciding that I wouldn't unnecessarily pay any money to the US: no trips to the US, as few purchases as possible of US products. Presumably this has some tiny effect, but it's not very dramatic. Of course, if enough people did it then you'd see things happen; I notice that Mexicans are already starting to boycott Mcdonalds and Starbucks. It would still be nice to accelerate the process. It's now well-established that the internet is a powerful tool for organizing collective action. Already, there are hundreds of petitions, marches and demonstrations being set up that way. I'm wondering what options are available if people want to coordinate economic action against Trump's regime. For example, I don't think the following apps would be impossible challenges to build: 1. A shopping app which optimised its search so as to give as little money as possible to the US. Part of the problem with organising a boycott is that it's hard to know which things are actually American. The app takes care of that; it has a crowdsourced database of information which lets it quickly decide that Brand X will send 34% of the money you pay to the US, but Brand Y only 12%. Of course, American patriots will be able to use it in reverse, sending as many dollars as possible to US companies. It'd be interesting to see which pattern of behavior was more common. 2. A phone app which refused to take calls from any US-made phones. If the app is switched on, an attempt to call you from an iPhone just gets a polite message saying that the owner only accepts calls from non-US phones. Once again, needless to say, patriots could use it in reverse. There's already a primitive app to boycott Trump businesses. I think we'll soon see this taken further. Please let me know if you come across anything interesting. _______________________ Thinking more about what I can do here, the subject of international conferences occurs. As an academic, I typically submit half a dozen papers a year to various conferences in my field. The venues for these conferences are in nearly all cases chosen by an international committee after a bidding process. Many conferences are held in the US. A quick look around Google suggests that the US conference market is worth on the order of $100B per year. Given the Trump administration's irrational and capricious policy of banning people from entry into the US, solely on the grounds of their nationality and literally at a minute's notice, it seems to me that it would be not be fair to potential attendees to hold an international conference in the US when other alternatives exist. I will be making this point to the various professional bodies with which I am affiliated.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I will try to keep this short as possible, because I am still pondering over his writing. Before I forget, something must be said. My lovely husband, who doesn't enjoy reading, only recommended two books to me, which are 1984, and this one. I read 1984, but I shrugged this one off. I didn't think it looked very appealing. After the recommendation, Henry David Thoreau kept popping up. While reading I am Martin Luther King Jr , a children's book, to my daughter his worked was mentioned to have inf I will try to keep this short as possible, because I am still pondering over his writing. Before I forget, something must be said. My lovely husband, who doesn't enjoy reading, only recommended two books to me, which are 1984, and this one. I read 1984, but I shrugged this one off. I didn't think it looked very appealing. After the recommendation, Henry David Thoreau kept popping up. While reading I am Martin Luther King Jr , a children's book, to my daughter his worked was mentioned to have influenced Mr. King. Forever, I thought why wasn't he ever mentioned to me before, but still I shrugged it off. Another book I read to my daughter mentioned him again, but I cannot recall the name. Lately, my husband has been quoting him. Eventually, I thought it was a sign for me to read his work. Honestly, I am glad I did. I might not agree with everything he said, but his arguments are strong. I found him to be this simple, strong, free thinker, who really thinks outside the box. It was really enlightening to me. I felt like this little patch of fog cleared from my mind, which still leaves me pondering what is right and wrong. At times a smile would come across my face, because he does, I thought, have interesting perspectives that are still relatable to this day, or things I somewhat agree with. I can see how his work influenced so many people to fight what is wrong with society, and to never back down from what you believe in. Maybe, I just wont pay my taxes. I am just kidding. Or simplest of things, like walking, could be the greatest influence in your life. How much can you enjoy from a walk in the woods? Can you let your soul wander, to freely think without succumbing to society? There are more questions to ask yourself, if you decided to read his work. I gave it four stars, because sometimes my thoughts would wander from the page, and some song would become hyper focused. A lot of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong were playing in my head. Therefore, I would have to re-read sentences, because I wasn't really retaining the information. At the end, I can see why my husband admires Henry David Thoreau, and I think I have a greater understanding what he thinks about society, and life. I do not understand why he joined the military if he thought similarly to Mr. Thoreau, but I can't get all the answers. I do feel a little bit closer to my dearest, because we have two different political views. We had to ban political talks. I hope everyone gets a chance to read his essays once. I did learn something from his work, and I hope you would too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    My censored review of this classic call to arms can now be seen at my personal blog. It is a shame that this kind of thought-policing is okay with so many people. "I don't want to think about it" is a fast way not to have permission to think. At all. But I suppose that's okay with a lot of people.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Gutenberg Opening: [1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Goverment] I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe—"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, Gutenberg Opening: [1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Goverment] I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe—"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Written for days past, written for today. Thoreau's discontent with the government is a present issue around the world... And it should be here. So many of our legislators, as in Thoreau's time, are not skilled at legislation and are so disconnected from the people and our needs. I think the title of the mini-book leads some to believe that Thoreau is completely anti-government - not true. He says time and again that a government that is worthy of his respect is one that he will live under. He a Written for days past, written for today. Thoreau's discontent with the government is a present issue around the world... And it should be here. So many of our legislators, as in Thoreau's time, are not skilled at legislation and are so disconnected from the people and our needs. I think the title of the mini-book leads some to believe that Thoreau is completely anti-government - not true. He says time and again that a government that is worthy of his respect is one that he will live under. He also points out some of the good of the government of his time. A very quick read, it should leave you to question your involvement in/support of our current system. It did for me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    Not too sure what I just read but it did have the occasional interesting point I guess...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Traveller

    This: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Darío

     I please myself with imagining a State at least which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State  I please myself with imagining a State at least which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ramblin'_Man

    Anti-system and other delusional ideas that will never happen.....just shut up and get a job you 30 year old teenager... Civil disobedience was a quick read and to the point (much like my sex life). Henry David Thoreau states when the majority rules, in the case of democracy, rarely is the majority just. Democracy relies on physical strength in numbers, rather than what is just. He pretty much brings to question the next step beyond democracy as a political system. Which he envisions is the enlig Anti-system and other delusional ideas that will never happen.....just shut up and get a job you 30 year old teenager... Civil disobedience was a quick read and to the point (much like my sex life). Henry David Thoreau states when the majority rules, in the case of democracy, rarely is the majority just. Democracy relies on physical strength in numbers, rather than what is just. He pretty much brings to question the next step beyond democracy as a political system. Which he envisions is the enlightened and conscience masses(yea, that will happen sometime soon). He also shows the problems in U.S. democracy and where they fail. Can we as people strive to something more than democracy? Can we question the sacred birthright of democracy in educational institutions or as autonomous individuals? Can I get out of bed in the morning??? Can I stop updating my facebook status every twenty minutes? Who cares... Quite a good read, wish it was longer. After reading this, I will never vote again, (like it matter that I did before and like anyone cares). I have considered this for awhile and this book seals the deal. Putting the burden of responsibility on a stranger other than myself to decide things for me is ludicrous. After reviewing those I have voted for, along with my hopes in them, they have failed me miserably. They have done far more war, destruction, and opposite of all my actual hopes; why should I compromise myself for the majority?? Fuck that.... They have enslaved more than free. They have killed more than they love. This is true throughout world history. I have given a fair chance to those in power. Dont vote and dont pay taxes....If you want something done, do it yourself.... (I think what I just wrote was the most hypocritical and pretentious thing I have ever wrote; ignore it all! Who the fuck do I think I am!! I need a drink and a dose of reality....) I thought the book might be more powerful, but I am glad to have read it. Not as boring or drawn out as Walden. However, just as delusional as Walden (seriously, people thinking for themselves!?!?! funny....) The only way out this shit hole is suicide and everyone knows it... I hope my review makes me look "intelligent" and "dark" for potential love interests.... Anyways, heres some good quotes and points of the reading, like anyone gives a shit. Why do I write these, seriously, does anyone read my shitty reviews? Do I actual think I am creating something original with my self congratulating critiques?? I am a college dropout, god, Im so self important and pompous... Ugh, I should consider taking anti depressants.... fuck it, I need another drink... Because I know you wont read this book, because you're a lazy pseudo-intellect who wrote a paper in college that you thought was "great" on something no one cares about and have wasted your money (or parents money) and life up to this point; I have made it simple and convenient for you. Read the quotes to get the idea of the book. You're welcome! Quotes: "But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on jutice, even as far as men understand it. Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?" "The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said, that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience." "The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies." "Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail." "There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men." "But if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law." "I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong." "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison." "A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority." "Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue." "The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor." "I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society, I am not the son of the engineer." "The lawyer's truth is not the truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong doing." "There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousands; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of setting, the much-vexed questions of the day."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I am a huge fan of Henry David Thoreau. I found Walden inspirational, and Civil Disobedience is a similar, thoughtful work. However, though the ideals are as clearly presented as any essay one could read today, the concepts inherent in this work are not even remotely possible. It struck me as almost amusing that Thoreau would have gladly gone to jail for his principles, but jail, and indeed all of institutions of the United States of America, would be unrecognizable in its present state to our f I am a huge fan of Henry David Thoreau. I found Walden inspirational, and Civil Disobedience is a similar, thoughtful work. However, though the ideals are as clearly presented as any essay one could read today, the concepts inherent in this work are not even remotely possible. It struck me as almost amusing that Thoreau would have gladly gone to jail for his principles, but jail, and indeed all of institutions of the United States of America, would be unrecognizable in its present state to our founding fathers and those who first conceived of the notion of liberty. Thoreau, a highly educated man who could read texts in their original Greek and Latin, claimed to need nothing of physical comforts or delights. He espoused a desire to sit and think in jail, staring out at the stars, rather than capitulate to unfair laws and inequitable situations. Those who ran the jails in Massachusetts during his one day of confinement, released him happily, knowing he was simply a man who must espouse his principles, a man who posed no threat to his fellow man. It would be a far different story were it to happen today.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I was inspired to read this after visiting the Martin Luther King Junior memorial in Atlanta. Gandhi and MLK we’re both inspired by the ideas presented in Civil Disobedience. My main takeaway is this...Question everything. Don’t take government as infallible truth. While Democracy is clearly the best form of government thus far in history, it is not perfect. If a government doesn’t grow, flex, and scale with societal and technological changes, it’s brittleness will cause it to break, similar to I was inspired to read this after visiting the Martin Luther King Junior memorial in Atlanta. Gandhi and MLK we’re both inspired by the ideas presented in Civil Disobedience. My main takeaway is this...Question everything. Don’t take government as infallible truth. While Democracy is clearly the best form of government thus far in history, it is not perfect. If a government doesn’t grow, flex, and scale with societal and technological changes, it’s brittleness will cause it to break, similar to how a startup can disrupt an incumbent enterprise. As an American, I can take a stand against what I believe to be wrong with the State. This book reignited my political interest.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    He has some wonderful essays, although it must be remembered that he had few personal responsibilities & no family to support. He was too self-centered for a wife & children. I believe he is sincere, if impractical. I think he draws the lines rather tight for the real world some times, but maybe it is that attitude that allowed things to go so wrong since his day... I've seen him labeled an Anarchist, but I believe he was a Libertarian. He wanted a better government that needed to govern He has some wonderful essays, although it must be remembered that he had few personal responsibilities & no family to support. He was too self-centered for a wife & children. I believe he is sincere, if impractical. I think he draws the lines rather tight for the real world some times, but maybe it is that attitude that allowed things to go so wrong since his day... I've seen him labeled an Anarchist, but I believe he was a Libertarian. He wanted a better government that needed to govern less.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Civil Disobedience: 5 stars Slavery in Massachusetts: 5 stars A Plea for Captain John Brown: 4 stars Walking: 3 stars Life without Principle: 4 stars

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Brilliant! While I don’t agree with every thought of Thoreau’s (an original Libertarian?), how grand it is to read from someone who has a real thought! Every sentence could stand as an individual idea, a great quote. Each lecture is beautifully constructed and well argued. He does seem, at times, slightly smug, but in the topics I found most convincing, I would rather call his smugness “righteous indignation.” Most telling, though, is the fact that his arguments are germane today. As I read, I co Brilliant! While I don’t agree with every thought of Thoreau’s (an original Libertarian?), how grand it is to read from someone who has a real thought! Every sentence could stand as an individual idea, a great quote. Each lecture is beautifully constructed and well argued. He does seem, at times, slightly smug, but in the topics I found most convincing, I would rather call his smugness “righteous indignation.” Most telling, though, is the fact that his arguments are germane today. As I read, I continually thought of a band of immigration bills debated and passed through the Utah Legislature this year which clearly went against the laws of our nation, but the intent of which was to solve a problem that the federal government has failed to do. “Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?” (from On the Duty of Civil Disobedience) Having seen first-hand the abuses and exploitation used by The Fourth Branch of Government, I especially appreciated his censure of the press. With my religious background, I thoroughly enjoyed this particular statement: “Among measures to be adopted, I would suggest to make as earnest and vigorous an assault on the Press as has already been made, and with effect, on the Church. The Church has much improved within a few years; but the Press is almost, without exception, corrupt. I believe that, in this country, the press exerts a greater and a more pernicious influence than the Church did in its worst period. We are not a religious people, but we are a nation of politicians. We do not care for the Bible, but we do care for the newspaper. At any meeting of politicians,--like that at Concord the other evening, for instance,--how impertinent it would be to quote from the Bible! How pertinent to quote from a newspaper or from the Constitution! The newspaper is a Bible which we read every morning and every afternoon, standing and sitting, riding and walking. It is a Bible which every man carries in his pocket, which lies on every table and counter, and which the mail, and thousands of missionaries, are continually dispensing. It is, in short, the only book which America has printed, and which America reads. So wide is its influence. The editor is a preacher whom you voluntarily support. Your tax is commonly one cent daily, and it costs nothing for pew hire. But how many of these preachers preach the truth? I repeat the testimony of many an intelligent foreigner as well as my own convictions, when I say, that probably no country was ever ruled by so mean a class of tyrants as, with a few noble exceptions, are the editors of the periodical press in this country. And as they live and rule only by their servility, and appealing to the worst, and not the better nature of man, the people who read them are in the condition of the dog that returns to his vomit (from Slavery in Massachusetts).” Thoreau, in all his critiques of government, speaks not merely to government, for in fact, I’m sure he would argue that government cannot listen for it does not exist. Thoreau is actually calling to us, to the individual, to be on guard and cleanse the inner vessel. “The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free (from Slavery in Massachusetts).” Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward (from On the Duty of Civil Disobedience). I found a correlation with a beloved sermon from Elder D. Todd Christofferson called Moral Discipline. Note the message around 4:08: "Self-discipline has eroded, and societies are left to try to maintain order and civility by compulsion. The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments." *** Additionally, on a completely different vein, I found great peace and inspiration from his lecture Walking, especially with this introductory excerpt: “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la Sainte Terre"—to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer", a saunterer—a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.” (from Walking).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nemo

    Because Goodreads is apparently cutting off my review, here is the rest of it: Okay, so it took me 15 days to read a 90 page book but it's Fine. The first of the essays included in this book is Civil Disobedience, which is of course one of Thoreau's most famous works. It was interesting but not really what I thought it was going to be. I get that the reason it is heralded is what he was discussing specifically in the text has wider applications but I was expecting something a bit broader I guess Because Goodreads is apparently cutting off my review, here is the rest of it: Okay, so it took me 15 days to read a 90 page book but it's Fine. The first of the essays included in this book is Civil Disobedience, which is of course one of Thoreau's most famous works. It was interesting but not really what I thought it was going to be. I get that the reason it is heralded is what he was discussing specifically in the text has wider applications but I was expecting something a bit broader I guess. I also had some trouble reading it as the language took some getting used to. Next was Slavery in Massachussettes, which I guess left the least impression upon me? I don't really remember it at all, other than thinking that Thoreau very plainly stated his stance against slavery and also against hypocrisy. The third essay was A Plea for Captain John Brown which was, I think, when I really started settling into the language and style. I enjoyed the anger he displayed, I think I am unused to thinking of older books and essays as being emotional but he is quite emotional in his case for the martyrdom of Captain John Brown. I did run up against my own lack of knowledge of Civil War era American history, which caused some confusion. I didn't even know what significance Harper's Ferry holds, so at first this essay was a bit lost on me. I think my biggest takeaway here was a desire to learn more about this time so I have greater context. Next was Walking, which was where I really stared enjoying Thoreau. I also, at this point, started livetweeting my reading so here are my thoughts: -Still reading Walking by Thoreau and man, he had a pretty good idea of what the future was going to look like. -I wonder if my uncle is a Thoreau fan or if he's just come to the same conclusions independently. -I just read a sentence in this essay that I legit do not understand. I have read it over 10 times and I don't know what the point is. -This does not happen to me often and it is extremely frustrating when it does. -Ah, I get it now. He is talking about being so in one's head that one forgets to notice the outside world but eventually the world returns. -The problem I was having was I couldn't figure out if the train was a metaphor or not. -I appreciate Thoreau but at the same time I feel like my time is better spent appreciating a sunset then reading him. And that last tweet pretty much sums up my takeaway from Walking. The last essay in this collection was Life Without Principal which, again, was not at all what I was expecting. I also livetweeted my reading of this one. -When Thoreau prefaces an essay with "Let us consider the way in which we live our lives." I feel as though he is about to get snarky. -He just admitted that he was grumpy one morning because he was stuck indoors and it inspired part of this rant. -Is Thoreau read in school? -The biggest disadvantage being home schooled gave me is not knowing what is taught in school, because I was busy learning other things. Which leads me to perpetually not know social things while at the same time over estimating what my peers were taught. Anyway, the point of this rant is, I very much wonder if 'Life Without Principle' is taught in school. -"There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living." I very much doubt that something with these sentiments is taught to children today. -Thoreau, railing against the 1% in 1863. -Things I have learned about Thoreau: he didn't like paying his taxes, being indoors, slavery, or goldmining. "It requires more than a day's devotion to know and to possess the wealth of a day." -"The newspapers are the ruling power." THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 1863. Much like Civil Disobedience I was expecting this to be on a broader topic, maybe something a bit more cohesive, but in execution it was kind of a meandering series of observations. This not to say that the impact was not still felt. The other topic undertaken in this last essay was gossip and while I may disagree with Thoreau about what sorts of transient constitute gossip and which constitute something worthy of attention, I do find too much of today's society over preoccupied with affairs that will be inconsequential in a matter of hours or even within the span of time that it takes the teller to draw breath to repeat the story, and I do get very annoyed by this type of talk and try not to participate in it. For further quotes I liked, the ending of his essay, "Why should we meet, not always as dyspeptics , to tell our bad news, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever glorious morning? I do not make such an exorbitant demand, surely." This is the kind of positivity that I attempt to embrace in my own philosophy and so I appreciate it being reflected in someone so widely renowned.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Reiley

    From the second we started reading "Walden" by Thoreau in English of my junior year, I loved his writing. Everyone in the class, including my teacher, thought he was a crazy, drug-loving, hippie who embodied the "crazy" transcendentalist mentality and values. I think they just couldn't understand an outside of the box point of view from someone who thought completely differently than anyone of his time, and anyone of today. I don't think Thoreau would be able to handle today's world, since he wa From the second we started reading "Walden" by Thoreau in English of my junior year, I loved his writing. Everyone in the class, including my teacher, thought he was a crazy, drug-loving, hippie who embodied the "crazy" transcendentalist mentality and values. I think they just couldn't understand an outside of the box point of view from someone who thought completely differently than anyone of his time, and anyone of today. I don't think Thoreau would be able to handle today's world, since he was writing about his world in the 1800s and how everyone was so obsessed with constantly working and hustling around every minute of every day. I can definitely relate to his mindset, although today's world is about 100x what his was. He was definitely ahead of his time, and I wish there were more people like him around today. His writing is so honest and just out there. He rambles sometimes, but that's what makes it real and truthful. I like how he would be on one subject, then just think of something completely off topic, but went with it anyway. It flows, in an odd but likeable way. Keeps things interesting. He is not afraid to speak up for what he believes in, whether that is regarding politics, social issues, or the human mindset that is so easily conditioned because of society and its tendency to adapt to the norms of the world. I enjoy his writing and will be reading more in the future.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Thoreau is a crank and a grouch and a scold, of course. But there is often more than a glimmer of truth in his diatribes. Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past. Unless our philosophy hears the cock crow in every barn-yard within our horizon, it is belated. That sound commonly reminds us that we are growing rusty and antique in our employments and habits of thought. His philosophy come Thoreau is a crank and a grouch and a scold, of course. But there is often more than a glimmer of truth in his diatribes. Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past. Unless our philosophy hears the cock crow in every barn-yard within our horizon, it is belated. That sound commonly reminds us that we are growing rusty and antique in our employments and habits of thought. His philosophy comes down to a more recent time than ours. There is something suggested by it that is a newer testament, -- the gospel according to the moment. He has not fallen astern; he has got up early and kept up early, and to be where he is is to be in season, in the foremost rank of time. It is an expression of the health and soundness of Nature, a brag for all the world, -- healthiness as of a spring burst forth, a fountain of the Muses, to celebrate this last instant of time. Or as Bob Dylan put it more recently, "That he not busy being born is busy dying."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Schuyler Lystad

    Wow. I really was interested to read this, but he comes off as a self-important ass. Either he knew very little about his world, or his ideas do not hold up to the test of time at all - each page is easy to disprove, and his ideas on liberty are dangerously myopic, possibly contradictory - he wants everything from government but refuses to give it anything (and I don't mean money). I would be surprised if anyone besides Libertarians who have a thought out position in politics could find this wor Wow. I really was interested to read this, but he comes off as a self-important ass. Either he knew very little about his world, or his ideas do not hold up to the test of time at all - each page is easy to disprove, and his ideas on liberty are dangerously myopic, possibly contradictory - he wants everything from government but refuses to give it anything (and I don't mean money). I would be surprised if anyone besides Libertarians who have a thought out position in politics could find this worth considering.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I only read the Civil Disobedience essay. I'm having trouble thinking of anything to say other than "What an insufferable prat Thoreau must have been." A long-winded essay in which he (correctly) finds fault with a government that supports slavery and the Mexican American War, and explains that the only possible solution is to not pay your taxes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nick Black

    Despicable. Insipid. Nauseating. I could go on like this for a minute, but doubt you really need me to. Reading this at 15 set me up for a lifetime of not ever wanting to sound like Henry David Thoreau.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fredr

    Interesting thoughts beginning with first sentence "That government is best which governs least" from John L O'Sullivan. It is thought provoking of the injustices that governments condone and how as individuals should handle issues. First printed in 1849.

  22. 4 out of 5

    James

    Didn't agree with all of it, or necessarily even most of it, but it's still a wonderful document that influenced Gandhi and MLK, among others.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    I love the essay Civil Disobedience. This is probably the 10th time I've read it, and I still always learn something new from it that I didn't quite grasp before.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dan's Obsessions

    dusting up this old book. Checking out a few side-lines aspects

  25. 5 out of 5

    Santiago Soria

    It teaches us to appreciate life and nature.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jill Nelson

    Love Thoreau, whether he's talking about nature or politics. Yay transcendentalism!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    On "Resistance to Civil Government: During the summer of 2010 I lived in Concord, Massachusetts - the home of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the Alcott family. I went there for the town's history which began approximately 100 years before these transcendentalists existed and had hardly studied any of them, their movement, or its implications. I lived a mile from Walden Pond and had never read Thoreau's adventures there, a few blocks from the homes of everyone e On "Resistance to Civil Government: During the summer of 2010 I lived in Concord, Massachusetts - the home of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the Alcott family. I went there for the town's history which began approximately 100 years before these transcendentalists existed and had hardly studied any of them, their movement, or its implications. I lived a mile from Walden Pond and had never read Thoreau's adventures there, a few blocks from the homes of everyone else listed and only came to comprehend what each of these individuals meant to our world through interactions with visitors to the National Park where I worked. Upon my return to the good ole PNW, I told myself that I would dive head first into exploring this history and connect its overwhelming presence to my experience in Concord - and, so, I've picked up "Civil Disobedience", originally titled "Resistance to Civil Government", and began there. Henry David Thoreau was a born, lived, and passed native of Concord. He thought of it as "the most estimable place in all the world", and rightfully so in my opinion. Born in 1817, Thoreau witnessed a Concord that had seen three major wars - one of which began on its soil - and had made a name for itself as a small, spunky, and fairly influential town in its nearly 200 years of existence. Sitting 18 miles NE of Boston, Concord had become a prosperous market town along the route into and out of Boston. In the 18th century at least (my primary era of study), it maintained an abundance of natural resources, such as meadow hay (used primarily for livestock feed), livestock, lumber, and just about anything that could be tilled in the soil. It had not only been the home of many influential characters over the years, but it had also become an influential character in and of itself as the hub of innovative ideas, such as the aforementioned transcendentalist movement as well as prominent liberal (as we use the term today), Unitarianism. It was here in the town of Concord where Thoreau chose to take a stand against his country and the state of Massachusetts by refusing to pay taxes in protest to the fighting of Mexico for the annexation of Texas, widely assumed to increase slave territory. Thoreau found himself in jail for a single night in July of 1846 and fighting would continue for two years afterwards. "Resistance to Civil Government" was an essay written in response to this event in his adventurous life. He opens with a ideological commentary on government and a call to every citizen to make a stand and demand the American government to be better. "Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? - in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable?... I think that we should be men first and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think is right." I had never thought of government in quite these terms before, as the embodiment of the moral consciousness of the men who create it, the men for whom it is created. 'Government' in my mind has always been its own entity, a structural system which is made up of men elected to keep the peace and establish justice. But, as Thoreau points out, is it really a just system to have majority rule in the first place? No - I think not. His more libertarian view of government complains of my assumption of government exactly - as the entity becomes less about men and more about the system, it become a capital 'G' Government and more like a machine. Its presumed nature of goodness and moral consciousness is lost. In this sense, it seems to me that the dichotomy between choosing to vote or not vote in today's world is still not enough to make an impact on our collective consciousness, that activism is the key to making right. "A wise man," Thoreau writes, "will not leave the the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men." While his single protest was not enough to make any notable difference in the system nor in the minds of his contemporaries, it was enough for him to set an example of how a spark can ignite change if people will it. Simply having an opinion and stating it freely to those who would listen was not enough for Thoreau, but action was - and still is - the only means through which to make a difference towards right; "Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divides states and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine." Unjust laws and injustice cannot be remedied if society is content to obey without protest. Apathy among the minority cannot by default assume the justice of the majority. Through example, Thoreau calls for change in that "if it [the machine of government] is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine." Government, having lost its essence of moral consciousness, is the antagonist in Thoreau's essay as well as his reality, more specifically when Government acts against common virtue while claiming to represent the common. In reference to legal human slavery, Thoreau uses the word "copartnership" to describe the relationship of a man to his government (ie, the state of Massachusetts) when neither chose to take a stand, implying that apathy is an active choice and that those who decline to act are just as guilty. "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison." - How many just and honest men exist in Thoreau's worldview? Not many. Does this statement seem to be a bit extreme in addressing the realities of how our government works? Yes, I think so - but his point still stands. Those who speak without action have made no real change at all, but continue to abide by the system for fear of repercussions which Thoreau views as further government sanctioned injustices that can and should be fought by those honest and just men who see the truth of the matter. Perhaps Thoreau's most moving and personal point for me is a lesson which I learned about 4 years ago in my young life, a lesson that had not and could not be taught by any familial example I had seen before. It sets me apart from my family and most friends to this day as a value that I hold dearly and try to live by even when realistic obstacles get in my way; "I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man or a musket to shoot with, - the dollar is innocent, - but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance." Economic protest is essentially what led to my current vegetarianism and my emphasis to purchase local goods as often as possible for the well-being of myself and my community. In Thoreau's day, he protested human trafficking and slavery within his own country; in our day, we are economically bound to support the same things elsewhere through outsourcing. There are too many middle men in today's modern world to truly see the progress of our dollars, though it is not hard to assume the worst and to try to counteract it accordingly. The problem in his solution of protest and isolation is that our world has become too big to make sweeping changes from the ground up - it requires slow processes and masses of minority ideas working together to make small pushes of progress. It is incredibly easy to see the world and all of its problems and feel too small to make an impact and that it is too impossible to remove oneself from the fold and live a life of isolation. Thoreau had Walden, freedom to escape to an unclaimed forest and do with it what he would. Such a situation can hardly exist in present day. He wonders, "Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government?" Today, we are watching this question play out in the Middle East, anxiously awaiting the answer of whether or not democracy can continue to be considered a higher form of government at all. He concludes, "There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly." But if this is the case, how can we keep a society as free and as large as ours safe as well as free? Thoreau opposes a standing army, opposes the arm of the government meddling in the affairs of other independent nations, but modern society has clearly moved beyond that debate as being valid. Ideologically, his positions seem logical and reasonable to expect in a time far removed from our own. But that doesn't mean that they should be removed from discussion and remembrance all together. What I take from this essay in full is that if there is injustice in the world, do your best to fight it. If you are unable or unwilling to be active in dispelling injustice, at least be conscious of its existence and strive to live an aware life. Too many people turn a blind eye to the problems of our world, which have multiplied near exponentially since Henry David Thoreau fought a more direct injustice 160 years ago. Battles are still worth waging if change is to follow - I fear, however, that apathy has become (or remained?) the majority and the protest of the few is the only means through which to create change. "I think sometimes, Why, this people mean well, they are only ignorant; they would do better if they knew how: why give your neighbors this pain to treat you as they are not inclined to? But I think again, This is no reason why I should do as they do, or permit others to suffer much greater pain of a different kind."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Brown

    Review of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Thoreau organizes his thoughts in a way that is very disorienting. His flow seems to be from one thought to the next with no in between of making a specific point. Regardless of his eloquence which is widely celebrated, becuase of this organization style I feel I may not have rightly grasped his thoughts although I did make an earnest attempt to do so. Here is what I’ve gathered: Thoreau is a very passive anarchist. He watches the state go by, p Review of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Thoreau organizes his thoughts in a way that is very disorienting. His flow seems to be from one thought to the next with no in between of making a specific point. Regardless of his eloquence which is widely celebrated, becuase of this organization style I feel I may not have rightly grasped his thoughts although I did make an earnest attempt to do so. Here is what I’ve gathered: Thoreau is a very passive anarchist. He watches the state go by, participates in it to the least extent he possibly can, and tries to educate his fellows that they need not participate. On the whole, Thoreau seems passionate about very little. He does speak adamantly against the unjust war against Mexico, and especially against the use of taxpayer dollars to fund it. He despises the insitution of slavery, and more specifically the perpetuation of it by the state. He critiques his fellow citizen in that they claim to be anti-slavery, yet openly participate in the state and industries which perpetuate its institution. Thoreau isn’t hesitant to criticize his fellow man in any way. He eventually even makes the statement that after he is freed from prison that he realized his neighbors were not to be trusted to the extent he once did. On the whole, Thoreau’s mindset is that of the individual. He advises everyone to think in the same manner, and have very little concern for the state. His faith is entirely in man, freedom, and the free market. A world without government where the individual rules is one preferable to this one. Oddly enough, the core of his individualist mindset seems to be to me the same as the core of the collectivist mindset. A collection of people only works together on the back of the natural good of humans. Equally, the individualist mindset of freedom he lays out is based entirely on the natural good of freed human beings.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joeri Kooimans

    In this eloquently written bundle of essays Thoreau delivers a very compelling plea for human dignity, freedom and responsibility. He shows on what just grounds a goverment, or its taxations might be contested and even rebelled against, in his time due to the spending of taxes on war and slavery. In other essays he gives a remarkably modern account on the values of simplicity, frugality and a contemplative way of living, describing intellectual and moral labor as more important and valuable than In this eloquently written bundle of essays Thoreau delivers a very compelling plea for human dignity, freedom and responsibility. He shows on what just grounds a goverment, or its taxations might be contested and even rebelled against, in his time due to the spending of taxes on war and slavery. In other essays he gives a remarkably modern account on the values of simplicity, frugality and a contemplative way of living, describing intellectual and moral labor as more important and valuable than economic prosperity. In the final essay his critique on our obsession with work, business and working ethos strikes me as very contemporary and almost reads as a critique on neoliberalism. He thus writes: "If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or scared out of his wits by the Indians, it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapicitated - for business!" (Thoureau, 1993, p. 76) Like David Graeber today, Thoreau argues many labor to be meaningless and urges us to care more about other manners such as nature and intellectual and moral growth. A lesson which still holds true.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jason Harris

    Henry David Thoreau's essays cover the period leading up to and during the US Civil War. Thoreau is a passionate voice against slavery at a crucial time in US history and these essays give insight on his thinking surrounding this topic and many others. Thoreau is as American as apple pie. These essays paint him as the freedom-loving, pragmatic, radical, independent that marks the American psyche even to this day. He thunders out an ideal that few, in his own estimation, live up to, calling down f Henry David Thoreau's essays cover the period leading up to and during the US Civil War. Thoreau is a passionate voice against slavery at a crucial time in US history and these essays give insight on his thinking surrounding this topic and many others. Thoreau is as American as apple pie. These essays paint him as the freedom-loving, pragmatic, radical, independent that marks the American psyche even to this day. He thunders out an ideal that few, in his own estimation, live up to, calling down fire and brimstone on none more often and more fiercely than the politician. His views and principles are inspiring, even if utterly unrealistic--even anarchistic--in many cases. Nevertheless, I cannot help but feel myself somehow ennobled by the time spend with him here. He is thought-provoking in the best sense and ferociously critical in an unnaturally naturalistic and at times anti-intellectual sort of way.

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