Emerson and Thoreau: Secular Chaplains of Nature

Preparing for my trip to Boston and Concord this summer, I’m again reading Robert Richardson’s Henry Thoreau:  A Life of the Mind, where he makes this excellent summary:

“Most interesting of all for Thoreau is Emerson’s insistence in Nature on a line of thought as old as classical Stoicism:  that the individual, in searching for a reliable ethical standpoint, for an answer to the question of how one should live one’s life, had to turn not to God, not to the polis or state, and not to society, but to nature for a usable answer.  Stoicism taught, and Emerson was teaching, that the laws of nature were the same as the laws of human nature and that [humanity] could base a good life, a just life, on nature.”



About Chris Highland

Writer, teacher, freethinker, humanist celebrant, former minister and interfaith chaplain View all posts by Chris Highland

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