"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...