Harley-Davidson and Philosophy: Full-Throttle Aristotle

Harley-Davidson and Philosophy: Full-Throttle Aristotle

Harley-Davidson and Philosophy: Full-Throttle Aristotle

Harley-Davidson and Philosophy: Full-Throttle Aristotle


Why do we imagine that riding a motorcycle makes us freer than driving a car? Are the bikes themselves the real stars of Easy Rider? Is Motorcycle Syndrome a medical deployment of sexuality? Did Jesus ride a Hog into Jerusalem? Is there an ontology of suicide machines and what could we do with it? What would John Stuart Mill have thought about compulsory helmet laws? Do Harleys really belong in art museums? Just how did FTW nihilists become as marketable as apple pie? Is there a teleological ghost in the Harley machine? Can we ride our manufactured metal mojos back into a State of Nature? What is it about the biker's worldview that isn't at home in Starbucks, and what did the ancient Greeks have to say about that? Book jacket.



When asked to write a foreward for a book about philosophy, I wondered what I might have to say. I am not a philosopher. I am just a man who loves what he does. I am a father of seven, a grandfather of twelve, and a great-grandfather of two. I am not an MBA, but I am a graduate of life, a self-made man, and a born salesman. I am not a suit; I am an ex-racer, a motorcycle rider and a lover of the open road. After reading several of the essays I felt intimidated. For the last thirty-six years my family and I have printed, merchandised, and sold Harley-Davidson tshirts at the races, HD dealerships, rallies, and events. What can I offer about the philosophy of Harley-Davidson?

As a young teen, I became determined to have a motorcycle. My first ride was in the parking lot of my high school on a friend's bike. As soon as I felt the wind on my face I knew I had to have one. When I finally earned enough money for a motorcycle, I entered my first race. At the time I had a growing family of four, and soon my son started to race as well. We turned it into a family affair, my wife and girls selling iron-on patches and decals at the races to support our racing habits. That weekend venture has now grown to a company of two-hundred-plus employees, operating out of three buildings in two cities, and is still fully owned and operated by family. My daughter, Tammy, always said we were in the t-shirt business; I always felt my job was in the Harley business.

In 1978 I started a motorcycle collection consisting of the firsts and lasts of engine models, and later added the infamous Buffalo Bike. My teenage obsession of fun and freedom has become a lifelong adventure. Whether Harleys become a part of your profession or just a weekend escape, the ride consumes you. Perhaps the allure is the freedom of the open road, or the . . .

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