Whether he was drafting the Declaration of Independence, building Monticello, or sending Lewis and Clark off to find the Pacific Ocean, Thomas Jefferson reveled in the concept and reality of nature. His entire political philosophy is distilled in a phrase he wrote to his nephew: freedom is the gift of nature. This 4-session course introduces you to the key writings of America’s most influential natural philosopher.
1) Jefferson’s Roots: Stoicism, Deism and “the laws of nature and of nature’s god”
2) Meeting Nature’s God: The Jeffersonian Sublime
3) Jefferson and the idea of wilderness
4) The Environmental Basis of the Declaration of Independence
Our primary text will be Thomas Jefferson: Writings.
You’ll also receive links to, or hand-outs of, secondary sources so you are introduced to the philosophies (Classical, Enlightenment & Romantic) Jefferson drew upon. The curriculum is structured recursively so that each class builds upon contexts established on the one before it, so that when we get to the Declaration, you have the conceptual tools you need to perform a reading that links nature (ie, “the environment”) and democracy (ie, the political ideology and system) in a revelatory, fully-documented way. Finally, you’ll be provided with questions and prompts online that will help guide you through the readings, so when we meet you have already started interpreting Jefferson’s ideas. You are not required, but are strongly encouraged, to keep a journal of your reflections and questions.
Jefferson and Nature is $70 for 4, 2 hr classes & online tutoring and discussion. It is being held Tues. 7-9 pm on Dec. 1, 8, 15 & 29.
This 4-session course introduces you to the key writings of America's most influential natural philosopher. You'll learn where freedom comes from!
- Jefferson and Nature: 4 lectures & discussion @ Forbes Library
- Readings for Jefferson’s Roots: Stoicism, Deism and “the laws of nature and of nature’s god”
- Nature, Natural Law and Our National Religion of “Nature’s God” part 2
- Nature, Natural Law and Our National Religion of “Nature’s God,” conclusion
- An Introduction to Modern Animism in the USA: The Environmental Religion of Thomas Jefferson