Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau, (1817-1862) American author, poet, philosopher, polymath, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and transcendentalist

Henry David Thoreau Quote

“Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe... till we come to the hard bottom of rocks in place, which we can call reality.”

Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau
~ Henry David Thoreau

Ratings and Comments

jim kilpatrick, austin, tx

I doubt that most Americans could stand a dose of reality.

Logan, Memphis, TN

But that's not Democracy. Opinion, prejudice, tradition, delusion, and appearance are the very things the majority uses in deciding what freedoms they want one day over the next-- in other words, as Thoreau says, Democracy isn't reality! HA! Thoreau, you're a good man, I like your style! Apparently Colbert isn't the first person to discuss the "truthiness" of "wikiality" (Democracy of knowledge).

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

The amazing thing is that Thoreau was disallusioned in 1830-1840. The fact that many even on this web site are disillusioned today is not surprising. On the other hand it points out the fact that some men have been disillusioned throughout history. Thus disillusionment is not caused by current events but an attitudinal problem in some class of men. Logan you are wrong about democracy. Democracy is the reality of public opinion. Public opinion can be wrong as in the substantial number of folks (the great unwashed in my opinion) who think global warming is a lie. The positive thinkers, the believers in ultimate good, the undisillusioned keep fighting for the rock bottom of truth on this issue and have faith in the ultimate intelligence of the human species.

Logan, Memphis, TN

Public opinion, when broken down, is a conglomerate of individual opinions. Each individual arrived at their voting decisions based on their previous opinions, prejudices, traditions, delusions, and how they subjectively see the world based on their life experiences, education, social groupings, religion, etc. When you put two, and three, and four, and ten, and a hundred, and a thousand such individuals together--public opinion is nothing more than a reflection of the individual's bias. You still haven't answered my question Waffler. At what magic number in your grandiose delusions of Democracy can the majority justifiably rape a women or kill an innocent child? If "Democracy is the reality of public opinion" and public opinion says it's okay to rape (the Hutu/Tutsi conflict for example)-- and they pass laws saying it's okay to rape-- what is the justifiable ratio to make rape okay?

E Archer, NYC

Reality is a place rarely visited by mankind. Waffler demonstrates that fact by using every possible means to prop up the lie of democracy. He calls us disallusioned (sic) but I call him simply delusioned. The search for truth is the only noble pursuit that leads to real Liberation.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

I called no one disillusioned. If the shoe fits wear it I only pointed out that Thoreau was disilusioned in a much younger, innocent and simpler America, an America when we were a pure Republic or were much closer to true and correct "Republic" that so many on this site seem to long for. What does the fact that he was disilusioned about "the great mass of men" then have to say about y'all's longing for those pure days of "Republican glory". I repeat that it is not the relative strength of the two sides of the republic vs democracy debate that is making men disillusioned then or now but something much deeper. Logan you and I have agreed on that majority rule is what American government is about. You need say no more to me about it for that is what I mean. I ask you to point out to me a majority ruled society that has authorized rape or genocide by majority rule. Not to ignore that some of the actions of America against native americans were close to genocide but was there a referendum or vote of Congress that authorized massacres. I don't think so. PS: If this pure utopian "republic" did not exist in Thoreau's time circa 1830 when pray tell did it exist and how long did it last? I respectfully suggest its existence is a figment of y'all's imagination just like Logan's democratic rape and genocide society is a figment of his imagination.


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