Motorcycles and the Meaning of Life

Check out Craig Bourne’s popular philosophy book — a couple of brief extracts below. Bike-wise, Moto Guzzi was my first love and with the release of the V7 III Carbon Dark (below), my pulse has quickened. On my bucket list is a visit to the factory and museum at Mandello del Lario on Lake Como.


There is no such thing as the philosophy of motorcycles, any more than there is a philosophy of pizza or of haemorrhoids (think about that when you next tuck into your black olives). Motorcycling in itself is just not fundamental enough to the nature of reality or human existence for it to be a philosophical area in its own right in the way that time, space and causation, possibility and necessity, logic and mathematics, thought and language, and right and wrong are. Nevertheless, motorcycles are well-placed (unlike haemorrhoids) to illustrate profound philosophical ideas and the practice of motorcycling raises a host of important philosophical issues, such as the meaning of life and the significance of danger and death, individual freedom and the legitimacy of state interference, our obligations to humans, animals and the environment, and the boundaries of our concept of art. In particular, it raises questions such as: Should I be punished for not wearing a helmet if I don’t want to wear one? Is it right to wear leather?


Why do motorcyclists ride? It has been said that only bikers know why dogs stick their heads out of car windows. Anyone who has ever ridden a motorcycle will have a good idea but those on the outside just don’t seem to get it. There are a number of theories on why motorcyclists ride, apart from the obvious sensual pleasures of acceleration and so on, and the subtle pleasure of manipulating an instrument skilfully. However, as some outside motorcycling have suspected, there may be darker impulses at play under the surface.