Walden Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

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In Walden, what does Thoreau mean when he says "In Wildness is the preservation of the world"?

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Henry David Thoreau was certainly emotionally and intellectually invested in the notion that it was imperative for humans to coexist on equal terms with nature. Whereas most viewed the wilderness as an obstacle to be overcome on the road to additional conquests, Thoreau viewed man as one with nature. It was, in effect, a symbiotic relationship. In an essay titled "Walking," published in the April 1862 issue of The Atlantic, Thoreau issued a warning to humanity. He began this important essay,

“I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.”

Thoreau followed this with a warning about the perils of ignoring his advice:

“The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. Every tree sends its fibers forth in search...

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