Socretes the Rower
How Rowing Informs Philosophy
The shirtless guy is slapping an aluminum baseball bat in his palm, threatening to brain me because I have a dog in the back of my truck and his sign clearly says that they don't allow no dogs, no how at his fleabag motel. When I say she can stay in the truck, he replies: "She's still a dog, ain't she?" and thereby absolutely nails the essence of ontology. As we peel out to avoid being smacked, my wife flips him a single digit gesture--a perfect example of what the Supreme Court calls "pure speech." Philosophy isn't so hard, after all.
Philosophy is about everything: how we know what we know, how we define our place in the universe, what we believe and how we judge truth, beauty, and justice. Ethics, in particular is about the good life and how we learn to be happy. But all of this is just words on a page unless we can actually use it in our lives and that is where rowing comes in. Rowing, and especially competitive rowing, teaches us about teamwork, community, courage, steadfastness, and a host of other qualities that have been the subject of philosophical musing for all of recorded history.
What this book does is make philosophy useful by tying it to physical activity. Our minds and our bodies have lessons to teach to each other and the successful athlete as well as the successful scholar learn these lessons through sweat, pain, and ultimately, inspiration.