Wilderness in America: Philosophical Writings, by Henry Bugbee. Edited by David W. Rodick. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. 224 pp. Cloth $110. Paperback $32.
Henry G. Bugbee, Jr., is best known for his remarkable work The Inward Morning: A Philosophical Exploration in Journal Form, first published in 1958 and reissued twice since then. In the collection of writings published under the title Wilderness in America, David Rodick shows the larger context for the journal entries of The Inward Morning and goes a long way toward filling out the arc of Bugbee’s life and career.
The arc that Rodick presents includes selections from Bugbee’s student writings, three of his mature published essays, four unpublished essays, an in-depth interview conducted in the waning years of Bugbee’s life, and finally a set of appendices, which includes insightful commentary, reflection, and testimony from friends and colleagues who knew Bugbee well. “The end in view throughout,” says Rodick, “has been to allow Bugbee the opportunity to speak in his own words and, when appropriate, through the words of others: those both familiar with the man as well as with his philosophy” (2).
The selections from Bugbee’s student days come from his bachelor’s thesis, “In Demonstration of the Spirit” (Princeton University, 1936), and his Ph.D. dissertation “The Sense and Conception of Being” (University of California, Berkeley, 1947). Not surprisingly, the Ph.D. dissertation is the more mature of the two documents. This is so not simply because it reflects the intellectual growth one would naturally expect of someone…
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