Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark by Alva Noë
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
On one hand, I really rather enjoyed this book. The chapters are short and pithy. Noe’s musings about baseball are thought-provoking; and his love of baseball shines through out. His idea that baseball is all about deciding who’s responsible for what, left me thinking about baseball from a new perspective. The relation of baseball to language and linguistics was intriguing. Anyone interested in baseball will find the book charming.
On the other hand, I found myself annoyed and disappointed at times with the book. Clearly aware of the philosophy of sport literature, the author makes almost no mention or reference to it. So many of the topics he dives into he treats as novel and original, as if he’s the first to consider these topics philosophically, when they are well-trodden in the literature. Noe has some interesting insights, but these too could have been better had he engaged with the writings by philosophers of sport.
Noe is explicit that he’s not trying to write a philosophy of sport book; that his is more the musings of a philosopher obsessed with baseball. And there is much in the book that fits this vein. But much of the book is also engaged in philosophical analysis of arguments about topics central to sport. As such, it is, necessarily, a work in philosophy of sport. And on that front, one has to grade it down a bit because it doesn’t enter the dialogue where those conversations are taking place. To strain the metaphor, he’s swinging the bat, but not stepping into the batter’s box to face the pitcher.
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