Audaces fortuna juvat

Working towards my dream

Walden and Thoreau’s Philosophy of Life

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

Walden is an exposure of Thoreau’s philosophy of life. He saw the goal of life to be exploration of personal, spiritual growth, and he proposed to live a simple life and study the Nature so as to attain it. His thoughts and suggestions are both idealistic and practical. They are idealistic for normal people valuing mundane growth highly. They are simple for Thoreau, having lived at Walden Pond for two years and two months as an experiment of his proposal.

To Thoreau, the society’s preoccupation with money and wealth seems to be foolish in that they are transient and they costs humanity. According to Thoreau’s calculation presented in the book, most economic activities are not economical. Hence, he recommends a life excluding all superfluities. He thinks them as dross. Owning more than the indispensable only distracts a person from seeing the very truth of life. He asks people to establish a goal of life rather than just chasing money. He urges people to “discover that they did not live.” Toward the end of the book, Thoreau clearly states what he desires in life: “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

Many hesitate to try new things because those are not commonly known. However, Thoreau asks to try those one has imagined. Though it is said by others that it is impossible, Thoreau asserts that what one thinks of himself as is what he actually can be.

The book is filled with insightful phrases that look at social issues squarely, vivid and clear descriptions of the Nature, and idealistic and appealing thoughts. Though it is not an easy book, and, as some say, can be easily misconceived as a boring book, I strongly recommend this book to my friends and firmly believe that people can enjoy this if they read it with deliberation.

My favorite phrase in Walden is the following: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Walden is a quite controversial book. Some, including myself, say it is worth reading, while others say it is boring. To be objective, I place a link to the post written by odyssean.

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Photo Credits: “Walden1” by Apostolos Letov on Flickr

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