Experience
Education
Bio
I taught philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis for forty years. I have a reputation for innovative work in the history of Early Modern Philosophy, particularly on Descartes and Cartesianism, and for pioneering work in environmental ethics and the philosophy of geology. All those years, I have been writing and publishing novels and trade nonfiction. I am married to Patty Jo Watson, who also taught at Washington University and is a distinguished archeologist. We have one child, Anna Watson, who like her parents, is a writer. I have been exploring caves in the Mammoth Cave region of Kentucky for over fifty years. The Mammoth Cave System is now more than 365 miles long, and will probably reach 500 miles. THE LONGEST CAVE (written with Roger W. Brucker, published in 1976 by Alfred A. Knopf) has never been out of print. Roger and I fancy that it never will be out of print as long as there are people who read adventure books. My novels and, as far as that goes, all my books, are grounded in obsessions. UNDER PLOWMAN'S FLOOR is about caving; THE RUNNER running; and NIAGARA the passion to do something no one else has ever done: to be the first to walk across Niagara Falls on a high wire, and the first to go over the Falls in a barrel. These are philosophical novels, but they are absolutely non-didactic. The translation of NIAGARA into French led to my being invited to the Saint-Malo Etonnants Voyageurs Festival International du Livre in 1997, where an award was given to its French translator, Jacques Chabert. That was year the Montana writers were invited to the festival, and I rode on the train from Paris to Saint-Malo in a seat beside William Kittredge, who told me what a fine place Missoula, Montana is for writers. The result of that conversation is that Pat and I now live and write in a passive solar earth house bordering the Lolo National Forest on a mountain slope above Missoula.