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

DANA PHILLIPS
Environmental Values
Vol. 15, No. 3, Perspectives on Environmental Values: The Princeton Workshop (August 2006), pp. 293-305
Published by: White Horse Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30302155
Page Count: 13
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Thoreau's Aesthetics and 'The Domain of the Superlative'
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Abstract

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.

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