Cover image for A philosophy of walking
A philosophy of walking
Gros, Frédéric, author.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Marcher, une philosophie. English
Publication Information:
London : Verso, 2015.
Physical Description:
x, 227 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
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.
Walking is not a sport -- Freedoms -- Why I am such a good walker -- Nietzsche -- Outside -- Slowness -- The passion for escape -- Rimbaud -- Solitudes -- Silences -- The walker's waking dreams -- Rousseau -- Eternities -- Conquest of the wilderness -- Thoreau -- Energy -- Pilgrimage -- Regeneration and presence -- The cynic's approach -- States of well-being -- Melancholy wandering -- Nerval -- A daily outing -- Kant -- Strolls -- Public gardens -- The urban flâneur -- Gravity -- Elemental -- Mystic and politician -- Gandhi -- Repetition.


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library B105.W25 G76 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Audubon Library B105.W25 G76 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Eggertsville-Snyder Library B105.W25 G76 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Grand Island Library B105.W25 G76 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library B105.W25 G76 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Niagara Branch Library B105.W25 G76 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Riverside Branch Library B105.W25 G76 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth." --Nietzsche

In A Philosophy of Walking , a bestseller in France, leading thinker Fr#65533;d#65533;ric 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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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. Whether taking a leisurely wandering stroll or a purposeful trek along an assigned path, when walking we are reduced to a moving two-legged beast, momentarily detached from obligations. Beyond his own perambulations, Gros evokes the wanderings of Kerouac and Ginsburg. Nietzsche walked to restore his health and get release from debilitating migraines, until he could walk no more. Rimbaud walked Paris to release his creativity. Nerval walked to ease his melancholy. Rousseau found inspiration only when walking, pondering memories and dreams. And of course, Thoreau walked to commune with nature and meditate. Gros examines the creative philosophies of these writers, artists, and thinkers so deeply influenced by the simple act of walking. He also examines the long journeys, pilgrimages, and protest walks of so many others in this fascinating look at the not-so-simple act of walking.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 Walking Is Not a Sportp. 1
2 Freedomsp. 3
3 Why I Am Such a Good Walker - Nietzschep. 11
4 Outsidep. 31
5 Slownessp. 35
6 The Passion for Escape - Rimbaudp. 39
7 Solitudesp. 53
8 Silencesp. 59
9 The Walker's Waking Dreams - Rousseaup. 65
10 Eternitiesp. 81
11 Conquest of the Wilderness - Thoreaup. 87
12 Energyp. 103
13 Pilgrimagep. 107
14 Regeneration and Presencep. 121
15 The Cynic's Approachp. 129
16 States of Well-Beingp. 139
17 Melancholy Wandering - Nervalp. 147
18 A Daily Outing-Kantp. 153
19 Strollsp. 159
20 Public Gardensp. 169
21 The Urban Flâneurp. 175
22 Gravityp. 183
23 Elementalp. 189
24 Mystic and Politician - Gandhip. 193
25 Repetitionp. 207
Further Readingp. 219

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