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The Philosophy Of Thoreau As Potrayed In "Walden" Two Main Quotes The Depict The Central Idea Of His Philosophy And Trancedentalism And Specific Details To Back It Up. Includes A Bibliography.

1070 words - 4 pages

"Philosophy of Thoreau""Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away" (Thoreau 345). In Walden, Henry David Thoreau bases his philosophy of the true meaning of life on the importance of self-reliance to gain self-fulfillment, the value of simplicity for freedom, and the illusion of progress.In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them" (343).For Thoreau, one must depend only upon and trust only in the thoughts and ideas of oneself, becoming a nonconformist in society, and live as fundamentally as possible, for outward improvements in life cannot bring inner peace and contentment.Thoreau loathes the culture he is surrounded by, which is fascinated by the idea of progress and success represented by advances in technology, territory, and economics--the illusion of progress. He does not believe that any social advances, seen only on the outside, will help him gain inner contentment or live life to its fullest capacity. All luxuries that allow a person to be perceived as successful are unnecessary and irrelevant to the true essentials of life and only add to the complexity and desperation of mankind. "Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind...love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust" (202). Resisting progress, Thoreau criticizes the train, which seems to be encroaching upon Walden Pond, in "Sounds", claiming it just moves people faster from place to place unreflectively. Although trains create the illusion of a new sort of freedom, it actually becomes enslavement, since one must now follow the schedules and routes. "Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry" (174). This deceptive progress has a negative and destructing impact on the environment and the lives of people, polluting and destroying purity.Simplicity is a philosophical ideal for Thoreau, the only way to attain real freedom. He maintains the belief that the simplification of one's lifestyle does not hinder our pleasures, such as owning a residence, but, indeed, facilitates them. We, as free people, are able to make our own choices, but many end in commitments, which limit us and restrain us from real freedom. Unnecessary accessories, and anything more than what is essential to life--food, shelter, clothing, and fuel--is not a luxury but is actually nothing more than an encumbrance. "Our life is...

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