Wednesday, September 28, 2011


It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.

This is a quote that seems to reflect existentialist thought on subjective vs. objective reality.  The birth of this philosophical thought is usually credited to Emmanuel Kant who died at the end of the 18th century.  Other philosophers built on Kant's philosophy until today.  Because Thoreau was born at the beginning of the 19th century, logically he was probably influenced by existentialism.

Thoreau was a true transcendentalist, always looking to nature for answers to this world.  He was also a conservationist, as well as philosopher and author.  One of his most famous books, "Civil Disobedience", is a diatribe against slavery and the US war with Mexico.
Contrary to many beliefs, Thoreau was not a hermit when he spent over 2 years living at Walden Pond.  He was interactive in the community, had friends, and enjoyed conversation.  At Walden he wrote several books and always kept a journal--a 20 volume set of books that gives the reader great insight into the character and motivations of the man.


Yun Yi said...

Thoreau's life was fascinating. I've only read his book "Waldon". Thanks for share.

PSACHNO said...

Hi Yun Yi! So nice to read your comments!

Thoreau certainly was his own man--individualistic. He walked the talk!

Do you know about Ralph Waldo Emerson?

Yun Yi said...

not much. i know they were good friends?

Pushhyarag2000 said...


That Thoreau quote is deep & profound. True, Nature provides us many answers. I read & re-read the quote and am still reflecting on it. Thanks for writing.

PSACHNO said...

Yes, friends. But I don't know much more than that.

Emerson actually rented the house to Thoreau where lived in on Walden Pond. I found that interesting.

Also, interesting is that Walden Pond was not in any kind of wilderness. It was about 500 yards from railroad tracks and several miles to the next town.

What do you think of Transcendentalism as a philosophy?

PSACHNO said...

@pushhyarag, so glad you enjoyed the quote.

Do you believe in the theory of relativity in Existentialism? I struggle with that and am somewhere on the fence. I know there is truth there, but also much danger.

In Greece I was surrounded by nature. Whenever I needed to relax, think, heal, I drove 5 minutes out of the village and was in nature. My favorite beach was only 20 minutes away (and not crowded, esp. off season).

How I miss it!

nothingprofound said...

Thoreau is such an interesting man. He, Emerson and Whitman each in their own way added such a positive note to the world of philosophy and literature. In a dark time, it's always nice to look back to them for enthusiasm and inspiration.

You seem to have been so happy in Greece. Why did you leave?

PSACHNO said...

np, I agree very much with your comments on the “transcendentalist trio”!

Yes, living in Greece was one of the happiest times in my life. I was young, strong, adventurous, and was very much in love. (Everything feels better when you’re in love, no?)

I accomplished and learned much in a short period of time. (Stress factor--sink or swim!)

I was a free agent, working for myself for the first time and had opportunities to exercise my creative talents in my business. Business also gave me opportunities to travel. Because I was in the tourist business, I lived on islands and interacted with people from all over the world.

The Greek lifestyle suited me as well…the food, the weather, the beauty of the landscape, the afternoon breaks, the off-season breaks. Many good and rewarding times.

Even though I divorced my Greek husband 6 years before I left, it took a long time to extricate myself from Greece…

Admittedly, part of my memories may be created by “Rosy Retrospection”--remembering things better than they were. But that tendency doesn't erase the reality of so many exquisite times I experienced.


I had pretty much exhausted my opportunities in Greece. I wanted to get my master's in counseling.

Because I was getting older, I felt the need to be closer to family. Security became an issue.

It was becoming more difficult to make a living--and I was ready to make a change after doing the same work for 16 years.

I wanted to get married again to someone with whom I was more compatible. The choices in Greece were small.

My friendships there were not very satisfying. The possibilities of finding like-minded people to whom I could really relate were miniscule. I became lonely.

I’ve concluded that despite being “homesick” so often, I don't regret coming back to the US. (Why can't we have it all? ;0)

Tatiana said...

Such an inspiring quote you chose for this post, as Thoreau was a thinker, writer and phylosopher far ahead of his time, just like Ralph Waldo Emerson was.

As to "Why can't we have it all?" - this is part of my problem too ;)

PSACHNO said...

"Misery" love company... ;0)

Thanks for commenting. I really liked this quote, but I didn't realize how popular it was! Ah, validation and comraderie!! :0)