Proceedings of The 5th International Conference on Research in Humanities and Social Sciences
“In Wildness is the Preservation of the World”: Henry David Thoreau on the Relation between Human and Nature
Rodolfo Bassani, Mauro Cardoso Simões
This research aims to discuss the contributions of Henry David Thoreau to the models of nature preservation, especially about how should be the relationship between human and nature regarding presence and interaction. Therefore, we initially propose to characterize the models produced since the 19th century, that is, the Romantic-Transcendental Preservation Ethic; the Progressive-Utilitarian Resource Conservation Ethic; and the Evolutionary-Ecological Land Ethic, based on Callicott (1990), and other more recent movements, based on Diegues (2008). Next, we analyze how Thoreau addresses the relationship between the human and the natural environment in his works, notably Walden; or, Life in the Woods, Walking and The Maine Woods. Finally, we articulate such considerations and argue, supported by Hunt (2019), and in contrast to what some interpretations claim, that his approach is centered on the harmony of human life with the natural environment, in an ecological perspective, and not in a relationship of merely instrumental use and contemplation. In view of the complexity of the theme, we propose to carry out an interdisciplinary analysis, bringing together different fields of knowledge in a complementary way, aiming to contribute not only to environmental ethics, but also to the dissemination of Thoreau’s ideas in different areas of the human and social sciences.
keywords: ecology; environmental ethics; environmentalism; freedom; harmony.