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Saturday, February 02, 2013


Sailing: Philosophy For Everyone edited by Patrick Goold - Book review

Sailing - Philosophy For Everyone

Catching the Drift of Why We Sail

Edited by: Patrick Goold

Published: July 10, 2012
Format: Paperback, 216 pages
ISBN-10: 0470671858
ISBN-13: 978-0470671856
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

"Why philosophize about sailing? Because people sail! Serious people - that is, people serious about life - pour their time and treasure into sailing", writes Associate Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Wesleyan College, Patrick Goold, editor of the thought provoking and insight filled book Sailing - Philosophy For Everyone: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail. The editor presents a series of essays about the intimate relationship between the study of philosophy and the timeless art of sailing.

Patrick Goold understands the commitment that sailors have to their craft. Indeed, the very act of putting the craft to sail is giving the ship life. The essays shared in the anthology make that powerful connection between sailing and life itself. Sailing on the sea becomes a metaphor for navigating the voyage of human life. For Patrick Goold, sailors are philosophers at heart, and that philosophical sailors enjoy their sport even more as the event becomes larger than life. Sailing takes on its own form of reality, adding additional depth to their own philosophy, as well as to the timeless questions asked about life, time, and space since the dawn of humanity.

Patrick Goold (photo left) provides selections from academics, writers, philosophers, and of course sailors. All of the contributors share an intense involvement in the sport of sailing, and offer a wide range of perspectives on the nature of sailing, the metaphor of water as the course of life, and of the people who take to the sea in boats. The writings offer life lessons learned from the challenges and triumphs discovered while under sail.

The essays included in the book cover a wide range of sailing and philosophy related topics. Among the ideas presented in the four overarching sections of the book are:

* Passing through pain and fear in the place of perpetual undulation
* The meaning of the boat: Three schools of thought
* Beauty and other aesthetic aspects of the sailing experience
* Physics and metaphysics for the philosophical sailor

For me, the power of the book is how Patrick Goold provides a wide range of writers sharing their ideas and insights into the relationship between philosophy and sailing. The contributors share their experiences, their thoughts and wisdom on life through both the medium and metaphor of sailing. The tremendous affection and engagement that the writers share with their chosen endeavor on the water shines through the pages. Their dedication to the sport, as well as the lessons learned while on the water, forms the basis of the various essays.

Patrick Goold divides the writings into four overall parts to give structure to the book, just as the methodology and practice of sailing provide structure to the life of the sailor. Each of the four sections considers a different philosophical question, and utilizes the language and learning of the sailor's craft to illustrate those concepts. The authors share the ideas of philosophy through the very real aspects of the life under sail.

I highly recommend the wisdom filled and engaging book Sailing - Philosophy For Everyone: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail edited by Patrick Goold, to any students who study philosophy, students of any disciplines, practicing sailors, or anyone interested in the great and timeless questions posed by philosophy since the beginning of time. This book is one that you will return to for inspiration, wisdom, and solace again and again.


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