Wilderness in America: Philosophical Writings

Wilderness in America: Philosophical Writings

Wilderness in America: Philosophical Writings

Wilderness in America: Philosophical Writings


The philosophy of Henry Bugbee defies traditional academic categorization. Though inspired by Heidegger and American Transcendentalism, he was also admired by the famous analytic philosopher Willard van Orman Quine, who described him as the ultimate exemplar of the examined life.

Bugbee's writings are remarkably different in form and register from anything written in twentieth-century American Philosophy. The beautifully written essays collected here show Bugbee's continuing commitment that "anyone who throws his entire personality into his work must to some extent adopt an aesthetic attitude and medium."

Together, the book reintroduces a major thinker of nature, an environmental philosopher avant la lettre who has much to contribute to American and continental thought.


On January 21, 1953, the Hotchkiss Recorder—newspaper of the Hotch kiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut—reported:

On January 14 with the temperature 10 degrees below zero, a
foot of powdered snow, perfect for skiing, and with all three
rinks open for skating, the Headmaster surprised the student
body by declaring a holiday. Conditions were ideal and the day
was enjoyed by every-one. the morning was sunny and clear,
with the temperature rising gradually. Clouds appeared by mid
afternoon and another three inches of snow began to fall. Many
boys then went indoors to begin preparation for the mid-year
examinations, ten days in the future.

The holiday was in honor of Henry Greenwood Bugbee, Jr.,
’32, who has been awarded the first George Santayana Fellow
ship in Philosophy at Harvard University for the year 1953–
54. Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Harvard since 1948,
Dr. Bugbee is interested in the metaphysics of responsibility.
During his fellowship he will be pursuing this interest at book
length in journal form.

In announcing the holiday the Headmaster regretted the fact
that Henry Bugbee, an ardent outdoorsman, could not be in
Lakeville to enjoy the ideal winter sports conditions.

I first heard the name “Henry Bugbee” in 1986 during a graduate seminar on Martin Heidegger. Following a discussion of the mystical- poetic aspects of Heidegger’s later thought, one student posed a question concerning what possibilities, if any, remained for . . .

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