Life Without Principle
(Full Review Below)
by: Henry David Thoreau
This short Essay by Thoreau is weightier than most philosophical pieces ten times its size. Thoreau detects a significant lack of principle among most in Western society, and his observations are as applicable today as when he wrote them.
As a naturalist, Thoreau enabled himself to step outside the norms of society to gather insight not easily attained, and as a result produced some exceptionally compelling ideas. He discovered the things most people prioritize to be far too trivial and endangering to living a truly virtuous life.
Put best by Thoreau himself:
“We should treat our minds, that is, ourselves, as innocent and ingenious children, whose guardians we are and be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust on their attention.”
Thoreau sheds light on the sad notion that society generally puts too much emphasis on enterprise; suggesting it merely represents a means to an end and has resulted in a lack of focus on what is truly important, life itself.
“If a man walk in the woods for love of them half each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed as an industrious and enterprising fellow.”
He further emphasizes this ideal with a profound principle:
“Don’t cheat yourself by working primarily for a paycheck. If what you do with your life free-of-charge is so worthless to you that you’d be convinced to do something else in exchange for little money or fame, you need better hobbies.”
In less refined terms, he is merely observing that your life is made up of a fixed amount of time, and if the bulk of that is merely to support a meager remaining amount, something is amiss; an ideal that merits consideration.
I highly recommend this short book to anyone willing and ready to test their own priorities. Life Without Principle will unquestionably lead you to the bedrock of your values.
Find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Without-Principle-Forgotten-Books/dp/1606200240/ref=cm_cr_othr_d_pdt_img_top?ie=UTF8