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Essays: A Fully Annotated Edition
Essays: A Fully Annotated Edition
Henry D. Thoreau
Yale University Press, 2013
480 pp., $40.00

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Science in Focus: Jeff Hardin


Walking the Walk

Thoreau and the art of seeing nature.

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To be honest, there are other things in these essays that are endemic to the Transcendentalists, including their supreme self-confidence and even self-absorption. Thoreau's sentimentality toward nature seems to run afoul of what most of us have seen in television documentaries. For those living in a post-nuclear world, his overconfidence in the valiant goodness of science seems sadly ironic ("Science is always brave, for to know, is to know good[;] … cowardice is unscientific; for there cannot be a science of ignorance"). Nevertheless, for the patient reader who is willing to read carefully, there is great reward in these essays. Thoreau "walks the walk" of appreciation of the natural world in a way that provides Christians with pointers toward glory.

Jeff Hardin is professor and chair, Department of Zoology, and director, Biology Core Curriculum, at the University of Wisconsin.

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