Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 05/2019
  • 9780578508566
  • 332 pages
  • $19.99
Climbing Higher: Answering the Big Questions

Adult; Science & Nature; (Market)

Not everyone climb mountains, however stories of climbing adventures provide insight into the adventure of life that we all share: overcoming obstacles and reaching out to something bigger and higher than immediate daily activities. History and psychology indicate that this is a strong human need that includes having a sense of meaning and purpose. Mountains can symbolize obstacles in meeting these needs, and experiences in climbing mountains provide a vehicle both actually and figuratively for exploring mechanisms and impacts involved.The book begins with a personal experience climbing Mount Fuji that nearly ended in disaster, with the question of why people do such things. Subsequent chapters alternate between mountain climbing experiences and research results about why people pursue difficult tasks. A bottom-up approach supports culminating proposals of spirituality as a universal personality trait, nognosticism that recognizes knowledge is limited, ecumenical humanism for religious tolerance, and the philosophy of pragmatic pluralism. For life to be meaningful and manageable, people need a sense of purpose and coherence that is best met by having belief in a higher transcendent realm while also having enough doubt about its nature or validity to pursue a quest for ultimate reality despite the great paradox.
Reviews
Wheeler’s engrossing book is part mountain-climbing memoir and part philosophical treatise. In simple prose and with an ebullient sense of curiosity about the world, Wheeler describes his experiences climbing mountains in minute detail, pairing these recollections with broad, sweeping attempts at synthesizing thousands of years of ontology, religion, psychology, and neurological studies. The book centers on what Wheeler identifies as the “ontological imperative,” which he defines as the human need to strive for difficult goals and face the unknown—an urge for which mountain-climbing is the perfect metaphor, as it tests the climber physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Starting with his climb of Japan’s Mount Fuji, a narrative of each climb (illustrated with Wheeler’s own lovely photos) ties into one of the philosophical concepts he introduces, such as awe, a sublime appreciation of beauty that he feels surveying the view from Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. Wheeler is especially interested in mountains that are considered to be sacred spaces and maintains a strong awareness of the mystical experience that can accompany the physical experience of climbing. He doesn’t preach; rather, this is an undogmatic exploration of ideas that have drawn and driven him for over 80 years.

The history of human consciousness and motivation is a huge topic, but Wheeler successfully breaks down these complex ideas with clear summaries, sometimes slightly oversimplifying. If his mountain-climbing memories ramble a bit at times, his writing style is so pleasant and inviting that it doesn’t matter much, and readers here for the joy and musings can easily skip the dry appendices of psychology research. The alternation between Wheeler’s personal experiences and his philosophical theories keeps the book lively and readable. This book is a conversation, both with himself and the reader, and through a willingness to reach out and ask questions he is able to come to a few tentative conclusions while bringing the reader on a purely delightful journey.

Takeaway: Readers interested in both physicality and philosophy will savor Wheeler’s blend of climbing memoir and quest for the meaning of life.

Great for fans of Climbing: Philosophy for Everyone, edited by Stephen E. Schmid; John Kaag’s Hiking with Nietzsche: Becoming Who You Are.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 05/2019
  • 9780578508566
  • 332 pages
  • $19.99

Loading...