Note how Thoreau qualifies his argument in paragraph 40 of "Civil Disobedience"; how does using this rhetorical strategy serve his purpose?

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In paragraph 40 of "Civil Disobedience," Thoreau is at pains to stress that, contrary to the impression he may have given, he is not a trouble-maker. He doesn't wish to quarrel with any man or nation; all he wants is a pretext for conformity. And every year, when the bothersome tax-gatherers come round to take their pound of flesh, Thoreau tries his damnedest to find an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land.

There is a tension here between two rival perspectives, battling it out in Thoreau's soul. On the one hand, the institutions of American government can appear perfectly good and worthy of admiration—at least from an imminent, worldly perspective. But from a higher, more objective standpoint, it can be seen that they are virtually worthless. It really all depends on which perspective we choose to adopt. In trying to present himself as a reasonable critic of the institutions of government,...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 489 words.)

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