Homework Help

In paragraph 1, what distinction does Thoreau make between the government and the people?

user profile pic

slither | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 21, 2012 at 2:28 AM via web

dislike 2 like

In paragraph 1, what distinction does Thoreau make between the government and the people?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 21, 2012 at 3:08 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 4 like

Thoreau begins his essay by establishing his definition of what a government is, then examining what basis a government has for exerting authority or power, and finally proposing what he considers as the limits that should be applied to governmental power. Through all of these positions, he is explaining how he distinguishes between a government and a group of people.

Government is defined as "only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will." Thoreau proposes that people will come to need no outside organization to carry out the will of society as a whole or of a particular community, at which point governments will become completely unnecessary. People, in his view, will come to be responsible for conducting their affairs with reason and respect toward each other, and the interference and domination of governmental bodies will be unneeded. In the meantime, "the government is best which governs least."

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes