Finding Our Sea-Legs

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Finding our Sea Legs: Second Edition

Finding Our Sea-Legs, my first philosophy book, was published by Kingston University Press in 2009. It is at one and the same time a philosophy book, a collection of strange and sometimes unsettling stories, and a voyage of sorts through some of the more enduring questions of ethics.

The argument of Finding Our Sea-Legs: Ethics, Experience and the Ocean of Stories grows out of the following two philosophical suggestions (I would not want to go so far as to call them propositions): the first comes from Aristotle, and is the suggestion that ethics is like navigation; and second comes from the storytelling traditions of India, and is the suggestion that stories are like the sea.

The book tries to chart a passage between these two suggestions, to weave a suggestive philosophy made of stories. Casting off on the sea of stories, exploring tales from India, New Guinea, Europe and America, and drawing on philosophers and storytellers such as Edmund Husserl, Emmanuel Levinas, Wendy Doniger, Walter Benjamin and Zhuangzi, it attempts a naïve kind of phenomenology that tries to get close to the question of what it is like to be affected ethically, so that we might be able eventually to navigate more wisely.

Buy the Book

Sea-Legs is currently out of print. There’s a new edition in the works from Wind&Bones books, due out November 2019. Until then, you may be able to pick up a copy of the previous edition at the links below.

An examination of philosophy and stories that will leave you waving, not drowning…

Left Lion magazine

A rich, lucid feast of a book.
Will Buckingham writes thinkBuddha, my favorite blog. Finding Our Sea-Legs: Ethics, Experience and the Ocean of Stories is his first book of “Buddhish” ethical philosophy. It is a remarkable and important work. The book is unconventional in form: written in colloquial English with little jargon. It tells many stories: about talking fish, million-year-old princesses, and the need to lower your mast as you near the horizon, lest your boat get stuck between the sky and the sea. Finding our Sea-Legs is also unconventional in content. It is one of very few books about a key problem in contemporary philosophy: the tension between the urgency of ethics and their inherent ambiguity. David Chapman on Approaching Aro blog