The Meaning of Travel by Emily Thomas

How can we think more deeply about travel? This was the thought that inspired Emily Thomas to journey into the philosophy of travel, to explore the places where philosophy and travel intersect.

This notepad was tagged with: Books

This notepad was written on March 5, 2024.

There are 518 words in this notepad, and it will probably take you less than 3 minutes to read it.


  • travel and philosophers to back to the european age of discovery
  • travel allows for contact with the other/the unknown which allows for reflection or gaining knowledge
  • travel vs tourism
    • tourism is not interacting with the place or people in meaningful ways
    • in making travel more accessible usually the other starts to become erased
      • however complaints of homogeneity in cities in not new
  • maps are socially constructed and process and mental interpretations
    • google maps = process = always changing
    • maps represent goals like google maps is trying to highlight business
  • a lot of early travel was for science
    • anthropology was later but people still tried to record things about the people they saw
    • people would take rocks, seeds, artifacts, etc to bring back to brag about or for scientific advancement
    • people were excited to expand the boundaries of human knowledge
  • travel allows us to see different forms of society and see different customs to show not much of human nature is innate
    • desires are innate but ideas are not
    • color perception, time, etc are all culturally mediated ideas
  • tourism started as rich people doing a grand tour as spurred by lots of travel writing
    • they wanted to grow up and become more worldly
    • officially it was about education but mostly it was to have fun like gamble, drink, and court women (either prostitutes or otherwise)
    • as travel became cheaper the middle class was able to do it
  • travel writing was sometimes satirized or used as a form for other stories like utopia stories
  • mountains used to be seen negatively
    • however they seem infinite and through a philosophy of space making god be the infinite space of which we inhabit people began to associate the earthly infinite appearing things as godly
    • it recontextualizes the unknown quality of the sheer scale of it from scary and bad to divine and awe inspiring—thalassaphobia is an example
  • the sublime is pleasurable in part or because it is dangerous
    • it allows us to appreciate or feel our mortality more closely in a way that is safe—we are close but not too close to these dangerous forces
    • skyscrapers and other engineering marvels may not be sublime but there certainly are ways that humans have been able to get us closer to danger while being relatively safe like nuclear power or shark diving
    • why do we crave the sublime? it’s pleasurable and some people like the terror adrenaline rush but is different and awe inspiring than skydiving
    • the very large and the very small both can inspire awe
  • american transcendentalism and environmental philosophy like thoreau led to conservation and by extolling the virtues of nature simplicity self reliance etc
  • travel was seen as a masculine and dangerous activity and women were usually forbidden or restricted from traveling
  • doom tourism is a self perpetuating cycle
    • education of the sites could lead to better preservation efforts but many people just want to go to see it before it’s gone

Other Books Notepads

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

A transformative exploration of the power, purpose, and benefits of gatherings in our lives: at work, at school, at home and beyond.

The Other Significant Others by Rhaina Cohen

The Other Significant Others is an exploration of long-term platonic relationships in their various forms.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In The End by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal is a meditation on how people can better live with age-related frailty, serious illness, and approaching death.

Assholes: A Theory by Aaron James

In the New York Times bestseller Nick Hornby calls “helpful, stimulating, and very timely”, philosopher Aaron James presents a theory of the asshole that is both intellectually provocative and existentially necessary.

I Want to Die But I Want to Eat Tteokboki by Baek Seehee

Recording her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a twelve-week period, and expanding on each session with her own reflective micro-essays, Baek begins to disentangle the feedback loops, knee-jerk reactions, and harmful behaviors that keep her locked in a cycle of self-abuse. Part memoir, part self-help book, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is a book to keep close and to reach for in times of darkness. It will appeal to anyone who has ever felt alone or unjustified in their everyday despair.

My Favorite Books

A list of my favorite books and book series.

The Moral Judgement of the Child by Jean Piaget

The Moral Judgement of the Child traces children's moral thinking from preschool to adolescence, tracing their concepts of lying, cheating, adult authority, punishment, and responsibility and offering important insights into how they learn -- or fail to learn -- the difference between right and wrong.

Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life by Sissela Bok

Is it ever all right to lie? A philosopher looks at lying and deception in public and private life—in government, medicine, law, academia, journalism, in the family and between friends.

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