Who is Henry David Thoreau?June 25, 2021
American writer, thinker and environmentalist. Born July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts – died May 6, 1862 in the same place. He was born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1837. Never a traditional student, his interest in transcendentalism and Ralph Waldo Emerson began during his school years. After graduating from Harvard, he worked in his father’s shop for a while, then taught at a school.
Emerson, who was greatly influenced by his thoughts, and who would become his lifelong friend, invited him to his home in 1841, and Thoreau remained at Emerson at frequent intervals until 1843. He was like Emerson’s assistant, contributing poetry and prose to the transcendentalist journal The Dial. In 1845 he built a cottage on top of Emerson’s land on the shores of Walden Lake, outside the city of Concord.
He wrote the book “Walden” as the fruit of the two years he spent here. Another fruit of two years spent in harmony with nature but alone on the shore of Walden Lake was “A Week on the Concord and the Merrimack Rivers”, published in 1849. Thoreau had only these two books published in his lifetime. Other works and diaries were published posthumously.
His masterpiece “Walden”, published in 1854, is an exemplary work for New England Transcendentalism, one of the most important intellectual movements in America. We can say that the thoughts on the environment in the work are the most important lines of modern environmentalism and environmental protection. As important as the traces he left in the history of American thought, transcendentalism and naturalism, his article named “Civil Disobedience” (Civil Disobedience, 1849) is as important as the trace he left in political history.
Because of the Mexican war, which he believed was purely to promote slavery, a night in jail as a result of the tax he refused to pay led him to write his article “Civil Disobedience.” This article, which would later become Gandhi’s greatest inspiration, is perhaps Thoreau’s most famous work. Apart from Gandhi, important names such as Tolstoy and Martin Luther King were also inspired by Thoreau’s thoughts and works.
Thoreau died of tuberculosis in 1862, in the city of Concord, where he never left except for a few short trips and a student at Harvard. All his works were published in 1906 in 20 volumes.
About Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau and his political philosophy
Thoreau’s Design of the World
Thoreau’s Understanding of Moral Philosophy
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook