Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Philosophy of Walking, by Frederic Gros

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

If you’re a walker, then you’ll love this book’s philosophic affirmation of the psychological benefits of walking. If you don’t walk, then A Philosophy of Walking will surely inspire you to start.

Frederic Gros is a professor of philosophy at the University of Paris XII. In this short book Gros sets out to explain the many advantages of walking. However, this is not a how-to book, preaching the mind and body benefits of exercise. It’s much deeper than that. Rather, A Philosophy of Walking is very much a meditation on writers, readings, philosophy and walking.

In making his points about the pleasures and release we find in walking, Gros discusses writers such as Thoreau, Kant, Nietzsche, Proust, Rimbaud, Ghandi, Wordsworth and Rousseau.  Many of these writers get a chapter each, and we learn many interesting things about their obsessions with walking.

What A Philosophy of Walking teaches us is that walking is a way of pleasantly erasing the self and its cares. We cease to concentrate so much on ourselves as individuals, as socially constructed selves,  but rather merge into the flow of life. We let our troubles melt away as we walk and think about deeper, more important things.

This is a wonderfully inspiring book that is also intellectually satisfying. It teaches that the best things in life, those that are the most uplifting, are free. 

Read this amusing interview with Frederic Gros at the Guardian.

A Philosophy of Walking, by Frederic Gros. Published by Verso. ISBN: 9781781682708 $32.99

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