By Daniel A. Dombrowski
Regardless of their impact in our tradition, activities encourage dramatically much less philosophical attention than such ostensibly weightier issues as faith, politics, or technology. Arguing that athletic playfulness coexists with severe underpinnings, and that either call for extra noticeable realization, Daniel Dombrowski harnesses the insights of historical Greek thinkers to light up modern athletics.
Dombrowski contends that the tips of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus shed very important mild on issues—such because the pursuit of excellence, the idea that of play, and the ability of accepting actual boundaries whereas additionally enhancing one’s body—that stay simply as correct in our sports-obsessed age as they have been in historical Greece. Bringing those innovations to undergo on modern matters, Dombrowski considers such questions as no matter if athletic pageant could be a ethical alternative for struggle, even if it unavoidably constitutes conflict by means of different potential, and even if it encourages fascist traits or moral advantage. the 1st quantity to philosophically discover twenty-first-century recreation within the context of its old predecessor, modern Athletics and historic Greek beliefs finds that their courting has nice and formerly untapped strength to notify our realizing of human nature.
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Extra resources for Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals
On a Platonic and Aristotelian basis, the key question seems to be how exactly to calibrate the proper balance between physical and intellectual training. The personnel involved at a gymnasion included the gymnasiarchos (the leader of the gymnasion), the paidonomos (the leader’s assistant), and paidotribai (physical trainers). These last were considered inferior to those who taught reading and writing, but superior to those who taught military skills, which were not seen as identical to athletic skills.
Very few athletes retire at the top of their game like the football player Jim Brown. More typical is the athlete who “is preparing himself for defeat, and perhaps humiliation. weiss and the pursuit of bodily excellence · 47 His days are numbered, his successes rarely momentous, and his glories short-lived; he works hard and long to prepare himself for what may end in dismal failure. ” (Weiss 1969, 18). This is an interesting question, and Weiss’s outsider response to it is nuanced. Granted, he thinks that athletes endure all of these things in order to be excellent.
The Greeks had no admiration for athletes who failed in other aspects of life or in later life. Miller quotes Pausanias as claiming that those who gloried in their strength alone were doomed to perish (Miller 2004a, chap. 9; Harris 1964, chap. 5; Finley and Pleket 1976, chap. 6). Once again, the goal was kalokagathia: bodily and moral or intellectual excellence. No doubt many ancient Greek athletes fell short of this ideal. It is by no means clear, however, that it is a good thing to abandon the goal altogether, as we will see.