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Sport, philosophy of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N054-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

Article Summary

The philosophy of sport as a separate area of philosophy is largely a phenomenon of the second half of the twentieth century, although previous philosophers, back to the ancient Greeks, occasionally made reference to sport or used it as an example in a larger point. Within the philosophy of sport, a number of sub-areas have emerged as important: sport and ethics, questions concerning sport and society, the issue of self-knowledge in sport, the mind–body problem as it relates to sport, sport and art, and the controversy over the possibility of defining certain key terms within sport, such as sport, game, play and athletics.

Within the area of sport and society, several major debates have arisen. The first is about whether sport teaches values and, if so, whether the values taught are desirable or not. Second, considerable attention has been paid to how certain societal problems, such as sexism and racism, have manifested themselves in sport, and how they might be addressed within sport. Third, attention has been directed to the phenomenon of the athlete as cultural hero.

The relevance to sport of the age-old philosophical issue of self-knowledge is manifest, with a number of different construals of what counts as self-knowledge emerging as important. Attention has been paid to self-knowledge in the psychological sense, self-knowledge as manifested in Zen thought and self-knowledge in the Socratic sense, among others. The mind–body problem, also an old philosophic issue, has clear relevance within the domain of sport. Dualism, physicalism and phenomenological accounts have all been represented, the latter being the most dominant and persuasive so far.

Citing this article:
Hyland, Drew A.. Sport, philosophy of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N054-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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