Homework Help

Which of Thoreau’s arguments did you find convincing?Which of Thoreau’s arguments...

user profile pic

nadia727 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 8, 2011 at 2:35 PM via web

dislike 0 like
Which of Thoreau’s arguments did you find convincing?

Which of Thoreau’s arguments did you find convincing?

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:20 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

If the arguments based in Civil Disobedience are to be a guide, I would say that one of the most persuasive elements would be the idea that an individual's conscience is the highest good.  I find this argument to be persuasive for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it is the basis for democratic autonomy.  Thoreau understands that the adherence to one's conscience is a uniquely American concept.  It is the basis of the founding of our nation and is embedded in the Constitution.  To bring out a political concept from a personal statement is persuasive, reflecting that the idea of public and private can be rooted in the same experience.  Additionally, I think that Thoreau's argument that government cannot compel or vitiate this realm of the private is another persuasive argument because it seeks to establish how individuals are able to possess a zone free of external intrusion.  I think that this is persuasive because it strikes at the very core of what it is that we do and believe in a liberal democracy.  Thoreau's basic arguments appeal to the presence and need for democratic self- rule.

user profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 26, 2012 at 9:09 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau writes,

I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.  It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.  The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think is right.

Having integrity is absolutely paramount to anyone who would be responsible.  The individual must have the strength to object whenever governments impose upon people for their own advantage. No citizen should resign his conscience to what John Stuart Mill called "The tyranny of the majority."  Legislators should be the servants of the people, not the other way around. 

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes