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Environmental Ethics

Volume 43, Issue 3, Fall 2021

Andrew J. Corsa
Pages 219-234

John Cage, Henry David Thoreau, Wild Nature, Humility, and Music

John Cage and Henry David Thoreau draw attention to the indeterminacy of wild nature and imply humans cannot entirely control the natural world. This paper argues Cage and Thoreau each encourages his audience to recognize their own human limitations in relation to wildness, and thus each helps his audience to develop greater humility before nature. By reflecting on how Thoreau’s theory relates to Cage’s music, we can recognize how Cage’s music contributes to audiences’ environmental moral education. We can appreciate the role of music in helping audiences to develop values conducive to environmentally sustainable practices.