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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Simon Paul James

James, Simon P. (2014). “Nothing Truly Wild is Unclean” Muir, Misanthropy, and the Aesthetics of Dirt. Environmental Ethics 36(3): 357-363.

Author(s) from Durham


For John Muir, nothing truly wild is unclean. Dirtiness is the result of human influence. Muir’s view finds an echo in the works of those writers, such as Robinson Jeffers, who regard urban environments as wild places that have, over time, become increasingly polluted by human beings and their works. It is clear that such misanthropic views can be criticized on moral grounds; however, they deserve to be criticized on aesthetic grounds, too. To adapt the view of Yuriko Saito, they indicate a failure to appreciate the human world on its own terms.