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A Philosophy of Walking

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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,657 ratings  ·  342 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 228 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Verso (first published May 15th 2009)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  2,657 ratings  ·  342 reviews


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Forrest
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was almost born on the autobahn. Had it not been for my dad being pulled over by the Polizei, and the officer seeing my mother in labor, Dad would have been stuck in traffic about the time I came on the scene. The officer, on assessing the situation, thought it better to give my dad an escort to Wiesbaden, rather than helping deliver me on the road.

Since then, I've wandered. I was born to wander. My father's job with the US Air Force facilitated, nay, forced this. We moved from Germany to Texa
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Beth Grant DeRoos
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
While I love to read non fiction, and read on average three books per week (we don't have a tv), its rare that I find a book that draws me back over and over, to re-read. This is one of those rare books.

Love walking myself, but never stopped to consider how it effected my way of thinking. Now I do. Kant,Nietzsche, Thoreau, Jesus, Gandhi and many others are in this book. Some walked with others like Gandhi and Jesus, but many preferred to walk alone. Some with a walking stick, some with their han
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Christian Hendriks
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Upon reading the back and inside jacket, I was expecting an intellectually rigourous examination of the role walking played in the work of assorted philosophers, as well as some consideration of different kinds of walking as political or philosophical acts. I was disappointed.

The ghost of that book is hidden in this one, but at almost every opportunity Gros ruins that potential by universalizing his own experiences of walking or by denigrating communities and academic conversations. Indeed, one
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Abby
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Meh. Have read better books about walking. I disliked his preachy, old-fashioned, highfalutin style. Read Rebecca Solnit’s book on walking, Wanderlust; I found it immensely more engaging and relatable.
Joe
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
An Achilles tendon injury has put paid to me pounding the treadmill in the gym. I could keep doing it, but there is a risk something very bad might happen beyond just waking-up with a limp the next morning. I miss my endorphin rush, but in the quest to maintain some level of fitness and the overwhelming need to take breaks from my homeworking environment I have rediscovered the pleasure and benefits of regular walking. So after lunch each day I now head out from my home for an hour of brisk pera ...more
DeadWeight
Mar 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Decent as just a history of walking as it relates to the history of philosophical thought, sure. I imagine Joseph Amada's History of Walking , cited in the bibliography (here I think misprinted as "biography"?), probably accomplishes that without all the transcendental gobldigook. This book cites what it believes are the great "enlightened" thinkers who benefited from walking. Said thinkers? Nietzsche, Kerouac, Rimbaud - all famously manic narcissists who died horribly after falling into tota ...more
Justin
I cannot say enough good things about this book! There is usually a book I go wild for each year and this is this year's book. It will be given to friends who will appreciate and wind up adoring this book. Granted, this is not a book for everyone though.
This is truly a philosophy book and it says it right in the title. This is a book about the essence of walking, the experience of walking, the disdain of walking, and famous walking philosophers. Due to this, it is not a mass market book.
I am a c
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Richard Newton
A wonderful, inspiring little book. The word "philosophy" means many different things - in the title of this book it means the authors way of looking at the apparently simple act of walking. But on top of this, the book contains mini-biographies of several of the worlds great thinkers (including Rimbaud, Rousseau, Thoreau and Nietzsche). An unusual an interesting combination of a book. Intellectual, but always accessible. Well written and inspiring. I suspect the book will not suit everyone, but ...more
William Crosby
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Multiple essays on different aspects of walking.

Presented a few ideas with which I disagreed, but they were thought-provoking nevertheless.

I walk. No car. By choice.
mis fit
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Philosophy of Walking brings together biography and an exploration of the history and meanings of the simple act of taking a walk. Gros pulls together an interesting selection of philosophers, writers, and leaders who all used walking to stimulate ideas and some even to push for social change.

On a personal level, I really do love taking walks through different cities, and that is what drew me to this book to begin with. Being able to spend the entire day just exploring, crossing bridges over a
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Gunduz Huseynli
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It was nice encountering the ideas that I have contemplated through my own travels and wanderings. This is a refreshing book, reminding me once again about the simplicity and necessity of walking, not only from point A to B, but also through life, with the realization and appreciation of everything around us being temporary.
Bettie
Jan 03, 2014 marked it as wish-list
This from Biblioklept:

"In A Philosophy of Walking, Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B—the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble—and shows what it tells us about ourselves.

He draws attention to other thinkers who also saw walking as a central part of their practice, and ponders over things like why Henry David Thoreau entered Walden Woods in pursuit of the wilderness; the reason Rimbaud walked in a fury while Nerval rambled to cure his me
...more
Keen
May 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have read a lot of books like this on this subject (good for me!) and this isn’t awful, but it just isn't very good. This sort of stuff has been done many times before and done a lot better too, by the likes of Alain de Botton, Rebecca Solnit and many others and as far as I can see Gros doesn’t really have anything fresh or new to offer.

We get some insight into the thoughts and habits of Rimbaud, Thoreau, Rousseau, Kant and Nietzsche and many more dead men of self-importance or significance an
...more
Allie
This rating/review is based on an ARC from netgalley

2.5 stars.

This started off interesting, but then just kept going and going and going and going and going. So boring. Gros' presented his views as the be-all-end-all of philosophic thought on walking, and I really disagreed with a lot of his points. He seems like a snooty jerk.
Em Laurent
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the perfect book for anyone interested in the history and philosophy of walking. The Kantian daily walk, the Baudelairian saunter, the Situationist drift...there is much to absorb here.

I am very inspired and touched by the sincerity of this book. It will inspire the flaneur and the hiker alike.
Violet
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The illusion of speed is the belief that it saves time. It looks simple at first sight: finish something in two hours instead of three, gain an hour. It’s an abstract calculation, though, done as if each hour of the day were like an hour on the clock, absolutely equal. But haste and speed accelerate time, which passes more quickly, and two hours of hurry shorten a day. Every minute is torn apart by being segmented, stuffed to bursting. You can pile a mountain of things into an hour. Days of slow ...more
Martin
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book promised so much, but it was not what I was hoping for. A more appropriate title should be ‘Philosophers who walked’. Maybe ‘Male Philosophers who Walked’. If you are looking for immersive writing that practically laces up your shoes and pushes you out of the house, you will likely need roused from your slumber first.

It has its moments, notably the sections Gravity, Elemental and the chapter on Gandhi, but for the most part, the act of walking makes a somewhat incidental appearance. Wa
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Alex Bogdanov
May 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
When I first decided to read A Philosophy of Walking, I expected a logically consistent treatise on the benefits of walking. One corroborated by the amalgamation of distinct and relevant parts of various philosophies, and culminating in a 21st century manifesto detailing the wonders of a good, long walk. This book is not that. It is instead a collection of amusing anecdotes about various famous - predominantly French - literary & philosophical figures, and their ways of walking, interspersed wit ...more
Sarah Thomas
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book.
Cheryl
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Once on his feet, though, man does not stay where he is.

I love walking. I love, love, love walking. Walking cities, neighborhoods, churches, trails, I love it all.

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the
...more
Everett Darling
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Pedestrian
Catie
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life."

"Eternal Recurrence is the unfolding in a continuous circle of the repetition of those two affirmations, the circular transformation of the vibration of the presences."

"Then through natural compassion the heart opens, dilates spontaneously before the apparent pain, like petals opening to light."

"It's more a flashing moment: sudden flame, time catching fire.
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Oliver
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice collection of chapters or perhaps essays about walking. Also a bit of philosophers and maybe even philosophy.
Malcolm
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Walking is one of those taken for granted things, we almost all do it – and anyone watching an infant’s delight at first walking and then at their increasing speed around the house, to the alarm of their parents and, at times, distress of their siblings will know that walking is a great marker of autonomy, of our freedom and independence. We take ‘Long Walks to Freedom’ and short walks to the shop – the sublime and banal, the transformative and the mundane – and I expect for many of us seldom ev ...more
pausetowonder
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: knmtr, en-français
As the title says, this is a collection of philosophical essays about walking. Some are devoted to different types of walking (in the city, pilgrimages, hiking through the countryside...) and some are mini-biographies of various writers and philosophers who were more or less obsessed with walking.

Very absorbing read (just a couple of the essays were weak), lots of interesting history, stories and ideas. Only occasionally lapses into the French intellectual's habit of forced naivety and excessive
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Nils
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Alternating between meditations on walking as a way to achieve psychological and mental liberty, and poignant stories about famous walkers (Rousseau, Kant, Rambeau, Nieztsche, Thoreau, etc.), Frédéric Gros provides a lightly worn erudite version of the old Zeppelin injunction to "Ramble On." Gros clearly favors the experience of extra-urban walking, most preferably in solitude, as providing a space for clarity of thinking. What he loves about walking is precisely that it is monotonous: "But the ...more
Patrick Walsh
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
My very thoughtful wife found this book at the local library and borrowed it for me. We had just made plans to try to hike the section of the Appalachian Trail that is in New Jersey within about the next year and a half. (We have to do it in stages and mostly as day hikes.) So walking has been on our minds. The notion of a philosophy of walking is interesting and this book does not disappoint in supplying material to feed that interest.

I was particularly taken by Chapter 11 wherein the author di

...more
Jordan
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it

This is another entry in what I’ve come to think of as "Craig Mod books," reflections on walking and what that activity does to thought through the body. I initially read Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust on his recommendation from that essay and loved it. It treated walking as something with a history, with many purposes in time and in different cultures, and treated those purposes with respect and a genuine criticality that reflected the impossibility of covering as broad a concept as "walking" in a

...more
Richard
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a nice well written book. It is in part the author's own philosophical musing on the act of walking and part a history of some great minds (philosophers, poets, authors and activists) who were avid walkers and used this activity as a part of their work. It is written in an accessible manner, you don't have to have a philosophy degree to understand and enjoy this book. I would recommend this to both those who enjoy a nice walk as well of those with an interest in philosophy.
Agne
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really liked any part where the author was telling a story (the life of a poet or writer). When the story stopped and the philosophical discussion began, I was lost. I think my brain is too small.

Fortunately, the previous reader had marked the more important bits in pencil, so in the end it was all good :D
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Frédéric Gros, né le 30 novembre 1965 à Saint-Cyr-l’École est un philosophe français, spécialiste de Michel Foucault. Il est professeur de pensée politique à l'Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po)

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“None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future: nothing but the cycle of mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day: walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plans, no experience. He has within him the eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.” 71 likes
“By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history. Being someone is all very well for smart parties where everyone is telling their story, it's all very well for psychologists' consulting rooms. But isn't being someone also a social obligation which trails in its wake – for one has to be faithful to the self-portrait – a stupid and burdensome fiction? The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life.” 25 likes
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