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Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Robert Frost was one of America’s most acclaimed poets. He was also a  philosopher who absorbed the prevailing ideas of his time and fashioned his own independent thought in the face of turbulent cultural changes. Unsystematic in his philosophies, he emphatically affirmed the bedrock of his views of man, God, nature, and history when he said: “I am a dualist”. Dualism for Frost meant that all reality is comprised of matter and mind, or as he preferred, matter and spirit; as opposed to a monism that sees reality comprised of one element, spiritual or material. Frost’s dualism also determined his political and social philosophy. For him, the central issue was the tension between the individual and society. He extolled the New England virtues of self-reliance, personal freedom, and courage—the strength of character he believed best cultivated in a rural setting. At the same time, he affirmed the need for social responsibility and loyalty to region and nation, to counterbalance the “scot-free” impulses in man.

Fiercely patriotic, Frost felt American democracy to be the best political system devised, and condemned Marxism and fascism as monistic systems that destroyed individual freedom and responsibility. Belief in dualism and the “trial by existence” led Frost to condemn any social or political program that promoted what he saw as a collectivist, monistic social order that weakened individual self-reliance. Thus he opposed Roosevelt’s New Deal, the League of Nations, and the United Nations as illusory attempts to homogenize men and women in ways that undermine the personal struggle with the dualities of good/evil, reason/impulse, freedom/ social obligation. Frost’s essential conservatism remained unchanged in his later years, despite accelerating globalism, the horrors of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Conservative principle also shaped Frost’s philosophy of education, again rooted in dualism.

 

  • Robert Frost’s Poetry
  • Robert Frost’s Quotes

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