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What does Thoreau say is the only obligation he has the right to assume in "Civil...

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jesimaka | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 16, 2011 at 6:50 AM via web

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What does Thoreau say is the only obligation he has the right to assume in "Civil Disobedience"?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 16, 2011 at 8:23 AM (Answer #1)

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The quick answer to this is that Thoreau says the only obligation he has the right to assume is the obligation to follow his own conscience.  Here is a quote that shows that.

The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

What Thoreau is saying here is that people must not simply follow the law.  The law, made by the majority of the people, can be wrong or immoral.  A person must not, therefore, assume the obligation to follow the law.  That would be to give up their individual consciences.  Instead, people must always do what they personally think is right.  Otherwise, society would be a group of people, marching in lockstep and evil laws would not be resisted.

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