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Thoreau's Aesthetics and 'The Domain of the Superlative'

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Recently, 'ecocritics' have tried to show how literature might help us weather the global environmental crisis both emotionally and intellectually. Their arguments have been based, in part, on the assumption that despite its obvious strengths natural science has well-defined intellectual and ethical 'limits', and that environmental values are (therefore) best articulated by concerned humanists more in touch with the imagination. This essay addresses some of the problems faced by green humanists in their uneasy, mistrustful relationship with natural science, using passages from Thoreau as touchstone texts and juxtaposing those passages with remarks made by Bachelard, Coleridge, Stevens, Nietzsche, and Kant.

Keywords: Thoreau; aesthetics; ecocriticism; imagination; values

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2014) of 1.056.
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