《瓦尔登湖》：现代精神危机的一剂解药 Walden Medicine for Modern Spiritual Crisis毕业论文
Walden is the masterpiece of Henry David Thoreau, an American philosopher and transcendentalist writer in the 19th century. It records Thoreau’s self-sufficient life about two years besides Walden Pond, Massachusetts, America. The book is also a record of a life of going back to nature and simplicity, and of an experiment of living with self-reliance, restrained material needs, as well as explorations of human’s spiritual world. In the 21st century, with the rapid development of science, economy and media, consumerism, money-worship and materialism has emerged and are now prevailing all over the world. However, a richer material life does not bring happiness to most of people. On the contrary, modern people are getting lost in the overwhelming trend of material, and are facing an unprecedented spiritual crisis. The paper discusses some thoughts and ideas in Walden, such as life of simplicity, return to nature, combined with the psycho of masses that can works in saving modern people from spiritual crisis.
Key Words: Walden; Henry David Thoreau; consumerism; materialism; modern spiritual crisis
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Thoreau and American Transcendentalism 1
1.2 Thoreau and Walden 2
2 The importance of the masses, the psychology of masses 4
3 Current situation 7
3.1 Social factors of the “Walden” time and nowadays 7
3.2 Modern spiritual crisis 8
3.2.1 Materialism 8
3.2.2 Consumerism 9
3.2.3 Spiritual wasteland 11
4 Connection between Walden and modern people 14
4.1 The ideas in Walden that can fit modern society and benefit modern people 14
4.2 Negative opinions about modernization in Walden 17
4.2.1 Negative opinions that worth learning 17
4.2.2 Negative opinions that cannot fit in modern society and weakness of Walden 19
Walden– A Medicine for Modern Spiritual Crisis
1.1 Thoreau and American transcendentalism
Thoreau’s philosophy can be seen generally as transcendentalist philosophy. There are three main viewpoints of American transcendentalism: First, the transcendentalism believes there exists an ideal spiritual entity that transcends experience and science, that is, the over soul. The over soul contains everything, exists in everywhere, everything originates from it and belongs to it, and human spirit, which is consistent with the over soul, can grasp and understand it through intuition. Second, individual is an essential part of society, social changes and developments must be achieved through the cultivation and perfection of individuals. Third, to look at nature from a new perspective, to think that nature, which has its own life, is a symbol of the over soul and God, and is of vital importance (Ba, 2017). Therefore, people should use their intuition, should return to nature, integrate themselves into nature, and achieve the harmony between nature and human being. In short, the transcendentalism advocates that all things are dominated by the “over soul”, that everything in human world is a microcosm of the universe, and that people can transcend feeling and reason and directly understand the truth. It can be said that transcendentalism is endowed with the function of “mirror” of nature, through which humans have the opportunity to communicate with God, and nature can be regarded as an intermediary carrier for human beings to convey spiritual needs (Fu, 2017).
Henry David Thoreau believes that it is because of the nature’s feeding that human beings can survive for a long time. Therefore, there is commensalism that exists between the essence of human beings and nature (Gan, 2018). People are a part of nature and should live in harmony and intimacy with nature and all natural creatures. People should, based on love, awe and adore nature. Based on what have been mentioned above, Thoreau decides to devote himself to the nature and practice transcendentalist doctrine, so that he reaches the Walden Pond to live a simple life that integrated into nature. During this period, he tries to figure out what he lives for and to understand the essence of nature and life.