Walden - A Guide to Self-Determination

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Henry David Thoreau's book Walden is a reflection on simple living in nature. Part personal declaration of independence, part social experiment, part spiritual journey, Walden is a work of satire, and ultimately a manual for self-reliance. It's certainly worth a read - and not just for the book's themes. Read it today! You'll be glad you did. Here are some things to consider as you read Walden.

Thoreau's observations of nature

In Walden, Thoreau explores the inner regions of man, and he makes frequent references to the unfrequented areas of town. In his writings, Thoreau represents the untamed western world. His observations of nature are particularly poignant, especially when he describes fishing under the moonlight, or feeling the jerk of a fish on his line. Although the pond might seem barren and lifeless, Thoreau writes of the many ways that God works within nature.

In his essay, Thoreau explores how he can make nature more accessible to his needs. For instance, he focuses on the "Spring" chapter, where he examines how nature re-awakens each year and compares this process to the rebirth of humanity. He also questions the reason for the way in which humans harbor past sins. Observing nature and its details, including ants and trees, is the only way to experience the "tonic of wildness."

Emerson's influence on Thoreau

The relationship between Emerson and Thoreau has been characterized as mutually supportive, especially when it comes to the idea of civil resistance and human rights. Emerson was close to Thoreau, and encouraged him in his literary endeavors. Although Thoreau was a prolific writer, Emerson was a great advocate for social reform and encouraged Thoreau to use his writing to make a difference in the world. The relationship between the two philosophers is fascinating and deserves further study.

"Self-Reliance" contains many references to famous men and works of literature. Emerson is particularly known for his concept of individual genius. In his book, he asserts that every human being possesses a unique genius and must trust his own judgment in the face of public disapproval. While Emerson used the term "men" to refer to all human beings, the idea of trusting oneself against the opinion of others remains a timeless message.

Thoreau's call for all men to recognize the potential magnificence of life

As Thoreau noted, the true description of a flower is not its scientific name, but the unmeasured essence of its beauty. A true description of the world should also include the familiar properties of objects, such as size, shape, color, and smell. But, Thoreau also doubted the usefulness of scientific descriptions. He noted that life is a constant quest for awe and wonder, and a man should be aware of the nature of his self-determination in the process.

While the ideal man must seek beauty in nature, Thoreau sought to find this beauty in himself. He created his ideal alter-ego in Walden and viewed nature as a kind of wish-fulfillment figure. While in his youth, Thoreau felt inspired by nature and entertained the notion that nature was God. This belief was reinforced by his earliest writings. The narrator of Walden was convinced that nature was a god-like force.

Walden's 'insidious' scheme to lure and then trap students

A recent lawsuit against Walden University alleges violations of civil rights, including reverse-redlining and Title VI. Such claims, however, are notoriously difficult to prove in court, since they require proving intent. In addition to exposing Walden's egregious practices, the lawsuit highlights the unique vulnerabilities that Black female students face, given their tendency to enroll in for-profit colleges and accumulate the highest student debt.

The lawsuit alleges that Walden University used a "lure and trap" scheme to entice Black female students into a degree program. This allegedly involved deliberately stretching out the capstone project process, requiring students to re-enroll each semester and pay tuition while their work was awaiting approval by a committee of three. The result was a staggering $28.5 million overbilling of students. The suit also alleges that Walden violated consumer protection laws and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by targeting minority communities with advertisements for its degree programs, and specifically targeting women.

July 20, 2022
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Literature

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Books

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