Surfing with Sartre by Aaron James
An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning

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Ultimately, it's as concerned with peace, fulfillment, and humanity's future as it is about the spray of salty surf on a summer's day. In fact, the two are the same. And his departing lesson is profound in its clarity: Surfing — like life — should be a thing of both pleasure and meaning.
-NPR

Synopsis

From the bestselling author of Assholes: A Theory, a book that—in the tradition of Shopclass as Soulcraft, Barbarian Days and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—uses the experience and the ethos of surfing to explore key concepts in philosophy.

The existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once declared "the ideal limit of aquatic sports . . . is waterskiing." The avid surfer and lavishly credentialed academic philosopher Aaron James vigorously disagrees, and in Surfing with Sartre he intends to expound the thinking surfer's view of the matter, in the process elucidating such philosophical categories as freedom, being, phenomenology, morality, epistemology, and even the emerging values of what he terms "leisure capitalism." In developing his unique surfer-philosophical worldview, he draws from his own experience of surfing and from surf culture and lingo, and includes many relevant details from the lives of the philosophers, from Aristotle to Wittgenstein, with whose thought he engages. In the process, he'll speak to readers in search of personal and social meaning in our current anxious moment, by way of doing real, authentic philosophy.
 

About Aaron James

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AARON JAMES holds a PhD from Harvard and is associate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy, and was awarded the Burkhardt Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, spending the 2009-10 academic year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He's an avid surfer (the experience of which has directly inspired this book) ...and he's not an asshole. www.doubleday.com
 
Published August 8, 2017 by Doubleday. 354 pages
Genres: Sports & Outdoors, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Surfing with Sartre
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on May 15 2017

A 12-page glossary defines some surfing and philosophy terms alike. Heidegger as ho-daddy? The approach is unusual, but to fruitful—and entertaining—ends.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Jason Heller on Aug 10 2017

Ultimately, it's as concerned with peace, fulfillment, and humanity's future as it is about the spray of salty surf on a summer's day. In fact, the two are the same. And his departing lesson is profound in its clarity: Surfing — like life — should be a thing of both pleasure and meaning.

Read Full Review of Surfing with Sartre: An Aquat... | See more reviews from NPR

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by James Ryerson on Aug 18 2017

Given that James’s principal area of academic expertise is political philosophy, it is not surprising his chapters on “society” and “work” are particularly strong.

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The Maine Edge

Good
Reviewed by Allen Adams on Aug 23 2017

if you’ve ever wondered how to connect the rich tapestry of philosophical constructs with the blissed-out joy of riding the tube of a perfect wave, then ["Surfing with Sartre"] is for you ... Aaron James is no Barney. He’s no hodad. He’s not a kook or a jake or a Stu. He’s a gnarly dude whose book is totally tubular.

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