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Overview

“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.” —Nietzsche

In A Philosophy of Walking, a bestseller in France, leading thinker Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B – the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble – and reveals what they say about us.

Gros draws attention to other thinkers who also saw walking ...
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A Philosophy of Walking

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Overview

“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.” —Nietzsche

In A Philosophy of Walking, a bestseller in France, leading thinker Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B – the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble – and reveals what they say about us.

Gros draws attention to other thinkers who also saw walking as something central to their practice. On his travels he ponders Thoreau’s eager seclusion in Walden Woods; the reason Rimbaud walked in a fury, while Nerval rambled to cure his melancholy. He shows us how Rousseau walked in order to think, while Nietzsche wandered the mountainside to write. In contrast, Kant marched through his hometown every day, exactly at the same hour, to escape the compulsion of thought. Brilliant and erudite, A Philosophy of Walking is an entertaining and insightful manifesto for putting one foot in front of the other.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
05/15/2014
Nonspecialist readers may at first be intimidated by this work of pedestrian philosophy by Gros (philosophy, Univ. of Paris), which includes discussion of prominent philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and Friedrich Nietzsche. They need not be. The writing and ideas are clear, accessible, and witty and should be approached by anyone with an interest in walking for fun, for leisure, or as a mechanism for creating thinking. Gros mixes personal essays and musings, both short and long, with more serious academic investigations on the influence of walking on some of the most eminent thinkers in history. The subjects are far reaching: from the simple wander in the garden to more intense (and lengthy) pilgrimages. Gros ponders whether walking is a sport (it isn't) and whether it is better to walk together or alone, fast or slow (answer: it depends). VERDICT Despite taking on some weighty philosophers, this is an easy, light read that will delight and inspire anyone who has ever enjoyed a good stroll.—Robert C. Robinson, CUNY
Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
In this meditation on the mental pleasures and requirements of walking, French philosopher Gros (Michel Foucault) focuses on long walks among nature, where even if “fog shrouds the mountains or rain starts to fall in sheets,” the walker must forge ahead. On such journeys, one throws “off the yoke of routine,” leaving the confines of the office for the freedom of the road, where creativity can ferment. Such trips call for slowness, allowing “every hour, every minute, every second to breathe, to deepen.” They also require solitude to find one’s basic rhythm, the pattern “that suits you, so well that you don’t tire and can keep it up for ten hours,” although small groups allow for company without the need for disruptive conversation. In between these ruminations are chapters on philosophers, writers, and activists well-known for their walking habits: Nietzsche, whose long walks in the Italian hills helped his crippling headaches; Kant, renowned for his daily five o’clock walk in any weather; Rimbaud, who travelled to Paris several times as a teenager, mainly on foot, then spent his last few years in the desert, “walking towards the sun”; and Gandhi. who spent much of his life walking around India, fighting for independence. This elegant book inspires consideration of an oft-overlooked subject. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“A passionate affirmation of the simple life, and joy in simple things. And it’s beautifully written: clear, simple, precise.” —Observer

“Poignant life-stories ... are interspersed with the author’s own meditations on walking ... In the way a landscape is gradually absorbed by the long-distance rambler they steadily build into an insistent exhortation: get up, get out and walk!” —Independent

“Life-affirming stuff.” —National Geographic Traveler

“Impressive.” —Daily Telegraph

“Philosopher Gros ponders walking, that most mundane mode of transportation or exercise, elevating it to its rightful place in inspiring creativity, evoking freedom, and quieting a troubled soul.” —Booklist

“This elegant book inspires consideration of an oft-overlooked subject.” – Publisher's Weekly

"Frédéric Gros asks why so many of our most productive writers and philosophers – Rousseau, Kant, Rimbaud, Robert Louis Stevenson, Nietzsche, Jack Kerouac – have also been indefatigable walkers … there are certain magical things that happen on the trail, and Gros is familiar with them. He thinks like a hiker."— Financial Times

"An admirable little book which will delight even the most sedentary."—Le Monde

"An unclassifiable book in which ideas are illuminated by the bright light of the morning."—L’Express

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781781682715
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 199,984
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Frederic Gros is a professor of philosophy at the University of Paris XII and the Institute of Political Studies, Paris. He was the editor of the last lectures of Michel Foucault at the College de France. He has written books on psychiatry, law and war. He lives in Paris.
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