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Good NeighborsThe Democracy of Everyday Life in America$
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Nancy L. Rosenblum

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691169439

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691169439.001.0001

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Thoreau’s Neighbors

Thoreau’s Neighbors

(p.219) 10 Thoreau’s Neighbors
Good Neighbors

Nancy L. Rosenblum

Princeton University Press

This chapter explains what “minding our own business” means, arguing that minding your neighbors' business and minding your own work is in tandem when it comes to self-examination and transformation. People listen and observe and then compare their neighbors' lives to their own. From the vantage point as witnesses to their neighbors' lives, people gain insight into their vulnerabilities, moral resources, and the terms of their happiness. Thoreau's Walden is the great American reflection on the quality of life at home, in this place, with these neighbors. Good neighbors emerge in Thoreau's work as essential to self-understanding and care of the self. The chapter also shows how Thoreau presents treating one another as neighbors as the “saving remnant” of democracy in America.

Keywords:   neighbors, self-examination, neighbors, moral resources, happiness, Thoreau, Walden, democracy

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