Sport : Art of Living
Whether it’s conkers in the schoolyard, kicking a football in the park, or playing tennis on Wimbledon Centre Court, sport impacts all of our lives. But what is sport and why do we do it? Colin McGinn, renowned philosopher (and kiteboarder), reflects on our love of sport and explores the value it has for us and the part it plays in a life lived well.
Written in the form of a memoir, McGinn discusses many of the sports he has engaged in – from pole-vaulting and gymnastics to windsurfing and tennis – and describes the athletic experience from the inside, as a participant, articulating what is uniquely valuable about sport as an activity. Sport, argues McGinn, takes us to our fullest potential as human beings, it’s what we fling at mortality to keep it at bay, a holiday from the Unbearable Heaviness of Being. Sport expresses our nature, it bears upon our self-realization. If a happy life consists in one that expresses fully our natural faculties, then sports must play an essential role in our lives. Mind–body unity, the nature of practical knowledge and physical skill, success and failure, the ethics of competition, peak experiences, the spectacle of professional sport, aesthetics and death, McGinn discusses these and many other issues while telling of his own sporting mishaps and adventures.
To use the vernacular of philosophy, Sport captures the phenomenology of sport – what it’s like to do it – and in doing so shows how sport is a way of expressing and understanding who and what we are, way beyond whether we are a good sportsman, a bad loser or a team-player. For anyone who has ever thought that there must be less humiliating ways to enjoy yourself than being thrashed on the tennis court, Sport will reassure you that it’s time not wasted.
In consistently engaging and occasionally inspiring prose, McGinn chronicles his dogged mastery of waves, wind and even the 'shivering vortex of malefaction' that used to be his tennis serve, and there emerge some refreshingly weighted philosophical observations. Times Literary Supplement
Colin McGinn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He took up kiteboarding at the age of fifty-seven. Formerly Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers and Wilde Reader in Mental Philosophy at Oxford, he is the author of over a dozen works of philosophy and his autobiographical The Making of a Philosopher (2002) is an acclaimed bestseller.
1. From pinball to pole vault
2. Running up escalators
3. Muscles, mountains and Manhattan
4. Into the water
6. Miami sport
7. Athletic investigations