Nick Riggle is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego, specializing in aesthetics, ethics, and moral psychology. He has a PhD from New York University and a BA from UC Berkeley. His first book was recently released by Penguin, On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck. It develops a theory of social virtue by exploring the contemporary fascination with being “awesome” and not “sucking”.
What are you working on right now?
Three things mainly. (1) A series of conceptually related articles that I hope to be a book one day. The book explores whether it’s possible to defend aestheticism, or the view that aesthetic value is (or can be) the overarching value of a good life. (2) A short book on a puzzlingly influential idea. People often connect the thought that they only live once with the thought that they should be adventurous or take risks: carpe diem, you only live once!, “YOLO,” etc. But what’s the connection? You might reasonably think the exact opposite. You have only one life, so preserve it! The book is an exercise in YOLO apologetics and a bit of a personal essay on my risky and adventurous past as a teenage pro skater. (3) Lastly, I’ve been writing a novel about a sapient beard for years and I work on it when I have the time and mental space to take up its imaginative demands. One of my dreams is to have the time to finish it.
What topic do you think is under explored in philosophy?
Aesthetics. It’s bizarre to me that so many philosophers ignore it. By and large US departments don’t really promote it or significantly support it. There are obvious exceptions, but it should be a staple of most US departments.
Name a trait, skill or characteristic that you have that others may not know about.
I love food. I cook and explore a lot and I’m not half bad. I especially love cooking for friends. My students learn pretty fast that if they want to distract me they should ask me about food—I’ll go on about anything from my latest vegan discoveries or cookbook obsession to Cheetos and burritos.
When did you last sing to yourself, or to someone else?
I sing a lot. In the car, shower, playing guitar. I also whistle a lot. Usually something by Schubert. It’s probably annoying.
Where is your favorite place you have ever traveled and why?
Portugal, Lisbon, and exploring the towns in Alentejo. Also Tulum. Both because of food, climate (cultural and weather), and proximity to the ocean. I also love Paris.
What’s your poison?
Lately exploring all the tequila and mescal around here. There’s also a lot of great wine, especially in the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja about two hours south. Oh and Fukano Whisky—100% rice and beautiful.
What would you like your last meal to be?
Depends on who’s coming over!
Find out more about Nick here!
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