An acclaimed philosopher and new father argues that engaging with beauty can make life worth living
You didn’t choose to live this life, in this body, in these conditions—this delicate and difficult life. Yet when you consider that your existence is fleeting, an inspired sense of urgency can spring forth. Say you often hike with a friend. One day, they propose that you skydive instead. You’re wavering, and they insist: Come on. You only live once! And soon you’re flying through the air. Why embrace a life you did not choose?
In This Beauty, philosopher Nick Riggle explores the beauty of being alive by investigating the things we say to inspire ourselves and each other: seize the day, treat yourself, you only live once. These clichés are at best vague, at worst stupid. They imply that you should do something wild with your life because your life is precious, a little like saying you should go swimming with your grandfather’s watch because it is irreplaceable.
Drawing on insights from aesthetics and his experiences as a professional skater and new father, he develops the thought that beauty—the beauty of this day, this body, this moment, these people—can make life worth embracing, worth engaging with and amplifying as beautiful. Insightful and deeply humane, This Beauty is a searching inquiry into the mystery of life’s beauty and a call to create and share it.
About the Author
Nick Riggle is associate professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego. The author of On Being Awesome, he regularly lectures at top philosophy departments internationally. His work has been published in McSweeney’s, Aeon,and Hyperallergic, among other outlets. He lives in San Diego, California.
“Lyrical...refreshingly off-beat...A performative case for beauty’s power to render life not just worth living, but worth savouring.”—Times Literary Supplement
“Accessible and motivating…How inspirational to think of life being 'animated by beauty.' This convivial guide for the questioning is perfect for readers of Rob Bell and Alain de Botton." —Shelf Awareness
"A beautifully written philosophical ode to existence.”—L.A. Paul, Yale University
“What is there to live for? What does ‘YOLO’ mean? And what are we doing when we try to ‘seize’ the day? Nick Riggle gives us a big, radiantly heartfelt, and deeply thoughtful answer in a philosophical letter to his infant son. We are here for beauty, and this beauty is not just an inner experience, but a profoundly social one. The meaning of life is in the beauty that connects us.”—C. Thi Nguyen, University of Utah
“A rewarding take on beauty’s central role in life.” —Publishers Weekly
“Short but wide-ranging, elegant but unpretentious, casual in style and sweeping in conception, This Beauty goes far beyond our traditional philosophy of art and places aesthetics at the very center of life. It is an ambitious and brave book—and a wise one. Read it.” —Alexander Nehamas, Princeton University
“[W]ith equal parts humor and gravitas, and lovingly peppered with personal anecdotes from his own life, Riggle weaves a poignant, autological guide to better understand not only ourselves and our inner machinations, but one that serves to help us navigate existence at large." —San Diego Union Tribune