The arguments of emerson and thoreau on self reliance and civil disobedience

His paternal grandfather had been born on the UK crown dependency island of Jersey.

The arguments of emerson and thoreau on self reliance and civil disobedience

Understanding

On Civil Disobedience is another common title. The word civil has several definitions.

The arguments of emerson and thoreau on self reliance and civil disobedience

The one that is intended in this case is "relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state", and so civil disobedience means "disobedience to the state". Sometimes people assume that civil in this case means "observing accepted social forms; polite" which would make civil disobedience something like polite, orderly disobedience.

Although this is an acceptable dictionary definition of the word civil, it is not what is intended here. This misinterpretation is one reason the essay is sometimes considered to be an argument for pacifism or for exclusively nonviolent resistance. The environment became especially tense after the Fugitive Slave Act of A lifelong abolitionistThoreau delivered an impassioned speech which would later become Civil Disobedience injust months after leaving Walden Pond.

The speech dealt with slavery, but at the same time excoriated American imperialismparticularly the Mexican—American War. Democracy is no cure for this, as majorities simply by virtue of being majorities do not also gain the virtues of wisdom and justice.

What criticisms of representative democracy does Thoreau raise in “Civil Disobedience”? Thoreau recounts his personal quest to demonstrate to his readers the possibility of surmounting the obstacles that materialistic society places in the path of the individual. He does not — cannot — spell out for the reader the spiritual truth that lies at the end of the journey.

The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.

Because of this, it is "not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize".

The arguments of emerson and thoreau on self reliance and civil disobedience

Such a fundamental immorality justifies any difficulty or expense to bring to an end. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them. He exhorts people not to just wait passively for an opportunity to vote for justice, because voting for justice is as ineffective as wishing for justice; what you need to do is to actually be just.

This is not to say that you have an obligation to devote your life to fighting for justice, but you do have an obligation not to commit injustice and not to give injustice your practical support. Paying taxes is one way in which otherwise well-meaning people collaborate in injustice.

People who proclaim that the war in Mexico is wrong and that it is wrong to enforce slavery contradict themselves if they fund both things by paying taxes. Thoreau points out that the same people who applaud soldiers for refusing to fight an unjust war are not themselves willing to refuse to fund the government that started the war.

In a constitutional republic like the United States, people often think that the proper response to an unjust law is to try to use the political process to change the law, but to obey and respect the law until it is changed. But if the law is itself clearly unjust, and the lawmaking process is not designed to quickly obliterate such unjust laws, then Thoreau says the law deserves no respect and it should be broken.

In the case of the United States, the Constitution itself enshrines the institution of slavery, and therefore falls under this condemnation.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.

Transcendentalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose.

If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood.

This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey.

I should feel as if I were worth less in that case. He considered it an interesting experience and came out of it with a new perspective on his relationship to the government and its citizens. He was released the next day when "someone interfered, and paid that tax".

Other Subject Areas

As governments go, he felt, the U. But he felt we could and should insist on better. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government?What criticisms of representative democracy does Thoreau raise in “Civil Disobedience”?

Understanding. In “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau not only calls for resistance to immoral and unjust government actions, he also criticizes the foundations of representative democracy — majority rule, voting, and representation. This critique is Emerson's own in such writings as “Self-Reliance,” and “The American Scholar”; and it finds a powerful and original restatement in the “Economy” chapter of Thoreau's Walden.

Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable .

In “Self-Reliance”, Emerson calls for individuals to speak their minds and resist societal conformity, while in “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau urged Americans to publicly state their opinions in order to improve their own g.

English III- Emerson and Thoreau. STUDY. PLAY. transcendentalism. in Self Reliance, what evidence does Emerson provide to support his new position? what explicit assumption did Thoreau make in civil disobedience?

what counter arguments to this assumption might someone present? “Anarchism may be described as the doctrine that all the affairs of men should be managed by individuals or voluntary associations, and that the State should be abolished.”.

American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States