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Philosophy of Sports: From a Wrestling Plato to Modern AI

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Philosophy of Sports: From a Wrestling Plato to Modern AIBy Keith TidmanThe towering ancient Greek philosophers were not immune to the allure of athletic competition. Much to the contrary. Take Socrates, for example, who once uttered, in an outpouring of unabashed sports partisanship,             “I swear it upon Zeus, an outstanding runner cannot be the equal of an average wrestler.”Plato might have blushed if he had overheard Socrates, as Plato — whose name was derived from “platon,” or broad-shouldered — was himself a wrestler, who in the 5th century BCE competitively wrestled in the Isthmian Games. Such realities, along with the astonishing thousand-year history of the original Olympic Games, speak to the reverential place of sports, athleticism, and physical training in human development and enrichment those many centuries ago. So, fast forwarding, what are the purposes — from virtues to vices — of sports in today’s world? I’ll focus on two related themes: Ethical values and character building; and imitation of society and life.Ethics is a key place to start in assessing the purposes of sports. Indeed, ancient Athens, Sparta, and Rome, as did earlier civilizations (like Egypt and China), accentuated the importance of physical activity to the development of a moral foundation and in coming to an understanding of one’s ethical duty. That is, the rigors of athletics were viewed as essential in complementing the rigors of academics and of intellectualism in order to form a better-rounded, accomplished person. Plato and Aristotle, among others, seemed to believe so: Plato having prophetically included women as moral beneficiaries of athletic activity (witness the all-female Heraean Games); and Aristotle, fervent about pentathlons, his having taught at the Lyceum (gymnasium). In this vein of character building, Aristotle inspired a core tenet that we now take for granted in athletic (and of course academic). . .

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News source: Philosophy of Sport

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