Paradoxes In The Essay Civil Disobedience

Best Answer:  Civil Disobedience (Resistance to Civil Government) is an essay by Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. It argues that people should not permit governments to overrule or deteriorate their consciences, and that people have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican-American War.

Thoreau asserts that because governments are typically more harmful than helpful, they therefore cannot be justified. Democracy is no cure for this, as majorities simply by virtue of being majorities do not also gain the virtues of wisdom and justice. The judgment of an individual’s conscience is not necessarily or even likely inferior to the decisions of a political body or majority, and so “[i]t 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 right.… Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.”

Indeed, he points out, you serve your country poorly if you do so by suppressing your conscience in favor of the law because your country needs consciences more than it needs conscienceless robots.


Cuckoo · 9 years ago

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Presentation on theme: "Civil Disobedience & from Resistance to Civil Government"— Presentation transcript:

1 Civil Disobedience & from Resistance to Civil Government

2 Civil Disobedience Coined by Thoreau when he chose to disobey a law
Thoreau, MLK Jr., Ghandi

3 Civil DisobedienceLogical appeals – facts, examples and well- reasoned argumentsEthical – based on widely accepted morals and valuesEmotional – Language and anecdotes that arouse strong feelings (Talking about a common experience)

4 Resistance to Civil Government
Many Americans believed that we had provoked the Mexican War in order to expand slaveholding territories.Thoreau was protesting this war at the time of his arrest

5 From Resistance to Civil Government
Paradox – Statements that express the complexity of life by showing how opposing ideas can be both contradictory and true at the same time"The swiftest traveler is he that goes afoot." (Henry David Thoreau, Walden)The less you have the more free you are. - Ivan Illich

6 Resistance to Civil Government
“That government is best which governs least…”In an ideal world, people would not need governments at allLogical appealCan there be, simultaneously, a government and no government?

7 Resistance to Civil Government
Because a standing government, is like a standing army, it should be disbandedGovernment is manipulated by few, and effects many.

8 Resistance to Civil Government
Government = a wooden gunThe government is not as forceful as one individual and accomplishes nothing on its own (logical appeal)“It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate.” (emotional appeal)

9 Resistance to Civil Government
Thoreau asks for a better governmentHave man choose their own government that suits themThoreau is assuming that people will voice their opinion

10 Resistance to Civil Government
Men say they would like to be sent to Mexico to help the slaves, but they send someone else to do that.These same men buy tobacco products and cotton, which supports the slave ownersThese same men pay taxes, which support the war

11 Resistance to Civil Government
Thoreau believes one HONEST man can inspire othersThoreau describes himself as the common taxpayer (emotional appeal)

12 Resistance to Civil Government
ParadoxThoreau is in prison and even though his body is imprisoned, his mind and convictions are free

13 Resistance to Civil Government
ParadoxThoreau assumes that the men in prison are HONEST men because he is in jail for being honest he assumes the same of others

14 Resistance to Civil Government
Civil DisobedienceThoreau agrees to follow laws that only he has agreed toIn any other circumstances, he is free to disobey

15 Resistance to Civil Government
Persuasive techniques/ ethical appealThoreau’s main argument appeals to the assumption held by manyGovernment was formed by an absolute monarchy and that it can improve by focusing on the individual

16 Resistance to Civil Government
ParadoxCitizens live “aloof” from government and still fulfill the duties of “neighbors and fellow men”People can refuse to pay certain taxes and not receive certain governmental benefits, but they still are an honest and patriotic citizen


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