1. Walking puts us in touch with what?
2. What was the first philosophic treatise on walking?
3. How did Thoreau say we could get off the news-cycle "treadmill"?
4. What did the Lakota love?
- "When you walk, news becomes unimportant." (81) Agree?
- What do you make of Emerson's "transparent eye-ball"? 85
- "To walk is to experience the real." (94) Agree? How else do you experience reality? How do you recognize illusion?
- Thoreau "wanted his [High School] lessons to alternate with long walks." (87) Would that work, pedagogically, in our time?
- Comment: “I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.” Thoreau, "Walking"
- "The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it..." By this standard, do we all spend too much on most things?
- "Thoreau, Emerson recalls, had made it a principle to give no more time to writing than he had to walking... Writing ought to be testimony to a wordless, living experience... 'How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.'" (95-6) And yet Thoreau read voraciously, and wrote about what he'd read as well as what he experienced at firsthand. How can we strike a proper balance between experience and culture, in forming our own ideas, without over or under-valuing either?
- "To walk in the early morning is to understand the strength of natural beginnings." (98) Do you have to be a literal "morning person" to understand this? Note that HDT also said "morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me" - does that have to happen before noon?
- "The sun is but a morning star," said HDT at the end of Walden. What does that mean to you?
- "One world at a time," said HDT at the end of his life. What would Plato and Aristotle say?
- Do you like walking in the cold? 103
- Do you get more energy from walking in landscapes than in the gym or on the treadmill? If so, is the explanation biochemical, psychological, existential, or what?
"The impulse to read Self-Reliance is significant here, as is the holiday itself —my favorite secular one for being public and for its implicit goal of leaving us only as it found us: free... Richard Ford, Independence Day
"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried..." Emerson, Self-reliance
23-"Feeling is All": the Triumph of the Romantics
1. Who found "bliss" in the French Revolution?
2. Pending the social contract's imposed submission to the General Will, what was the Romantic cure for commercial corruption?
3. What were Aristotle's three unities?
4. For Shelley the problem with political revolutions was what?
- Should we draw any large conclusions about human nature and revolutionary zeal from the horrors of the French Reign of Terror? Are utopian visions inherently empty or beyond our reach? Is hope for a peaceful and non-exploitative world naive?
- Is it possible to hold a romantic view of nature that emulates but does not "worship" it?
- Hope "starts with a man walking alone in a forest." (412) Are Thoreau and Wordsworth, then, kindred hopeful spirits? Do they offer a constructive example of how to live in the modern world?
- Do you ever experience Blake's "world in a grain of Sand... And eternity in an hour"? He was considered a mystic, but isn't this a formula that offers to naturalize "eternity"?
- Why do you think the romantic poets were so drawn to long solitary walks? Is it because extended exercise opens a mystic portal of some kind, offering a glimpse of Reality? Or because they release "feel-good" biochemicals? Or...?
- Schopenhauer "recommended [suicide] to his readers," presumably after they bought his books. (417) Faust's Mephistopheles said "All that exists deserves to be destroyed." (418) Is this nihilism? Is it defensible in any respect?
- Can Shelley's atheism be reconciled with his poetic "emanations from the Godhead"? Does it suffice to say that "poetry is not like reasoning"? 423
- Are artists the "advance guard of the human spirit" in our day? What role does art play in our culture, and what role should it play? 424 What do you think of Faulkner's high-minded challenge to artists "help man endure by lifting his heart"?
- Are poets politically relevant?
24-Victorian Crossroads: Hegel, Marx, and Mill
- If Marxist revolution is inevitable, why did Marx say the point of philosophy is to change the world?
- Have we become a nation of consumers, largely indifferent to the fate and well-being of others?
- Can we reasonably construe Hegel's notion of history as the "unfolding of Spirit" in naturalistic terms, as (say) the progressive expansion of freedom and conscientious regard for the well-being of others? Do Hegelians and Marxists have to endorse some form of statism that denigrates individual freedom?
- "False consciousness is the Marxist version of the cave... 'religion is the opiate of the masses.'" 439 Can any 'ism plausibly assert its own unique intellectual independence?
- What do you think of Mill's discovery of Wordsworth and the value of "a walk through the mountains or down a London street"? 443 Does our present approach to education obscure this?
- Is Mill's libertarianism guilty of either "elitism" or excessive "eccentricity"? 448
- Can socialism preserve individual choice without unduly constraining the freedom of markets, as implied in Mill's later writings? Can "redistribution of income and resources" ever be truly voluntary? 448-9