Baseball is a strange sport: it consists of long periods in which little seems to be happening, punctuated by high-energy outbursts of rapid fire activity. Because of this, despite ever greater profits, Major League Baseball is bent on finding ways to shorten games, and to tailor baseball to today's shorter attention spans. But for the true fan, baseball is always compelling to watch -and intellectually fascinating. It's superficially slow-pace is an opportunity to participate in the distinctive thinking practice that defines the game. If baseball is boring, it's boring the way philosophy is boring: not because there isn't a lot going on, but because the challenge baseball poses is making sense of it all.
In this deeply entertaining book, philosopher and baseball fan Alva Noë explores the many unexpected ways in which baseball is truly a philosophical kind of game. For example, he ponders how observers of baseball are less interested in what happens, than in who is responsible for what happens; every action receives praise or blame. To put it another way, in baseball - as in the law - we decide what happened based on who is responsible for what happened. Noe also explains the curious activity of keeping score: a score card is not merely a record of the game, like a video recording; it is an account of the game. Baseball requires that true fans try to tell the story of the game, in real time, as it unfolds, and thus actively participate in its creation.
Alva Noë is a writer and philosopher living in Berkeley and New York. He works on the nature of mind and human experience. He is the author of Out of Our Heads (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009) and Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2015), among other books. He is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and the 2018 recipient of the Judd/Hume Prize in Advanced Visual Studies. He was a weekly contributor to National Public Radio's science blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture.
Lawrence Weschler, a graduate of Cowell College at UC Santa Cruz (1974), was for twenty years a staff writer at The New Yorker (1981-2001), where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies, and then for thirteen years (2001-2014) the director, now emeritus, of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, where he insisted on counting the sciences as one of the crowning jewels of "the humanities." He has been a regular contributor, among others, to the New York Times magazine, Vanity Fair, Harper's, McSweeney's, The Believer--and is the author of coming on twenty books, including Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees (a life of artist Robert Irwin); Mr Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder (on the Museum of Jurassic Technology); Vermeer in Bosnia; Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences; Waves Passing in the Night (on Walter Murch in the land of the astrophysicists), and forthcoming this August, And How Are You, Doctor Sacks? (a biographical memoir of his thirty-five year friendship with the neurologist Oliver Sacks). For more, visit www.lawrenceweschler.com