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

Dana Phillips

Environmental Values 15(2006): 293-305. doi: 10.3197/096327106778226220


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: Aesthetics, ecocriticism, imagination, Thoreau, values

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Response to Brady, Phillips and Rolston. Susan Stewart

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