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2009 | 47 | 1 | 89-94

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On Virtue in the Context of Sport



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Sport with its long and rich history is and always has been a complex phenomenon of culture, this marvellous world of objectified human spirit, the environment of man's consciousness and its deep dreams and ideals. So, key elements of sport are not limited to the games themselves, but encompass also a strong ethos consisting of a system of values and models of comportment, personal development and human perfection, frequently expressed in philosophical terms. In ancient Greece, philosophical reflection on sport was directly related to anthropology and focused on the human's whole physical, psychical and spiritual prowess and its improvement. Similar cohesion of the sport idea, philosophy and anthropology is also present in de Coubertin's heritage with its special emphasis on pedagogy. Sport carries a huge educational potential as a tool for shaping man on the somatic, mental, emotional, moral and social levels. But contemporary sport itself is infected by pathologies (actually, first signals of them were present in antiquity), which leads to violating the rule of fair play, to doping, commercialisation of sporting achievements and treating them in an instrumental manner, to the reification of sportsmen and treating the records as an ultimate fetish. In view of such phenomena, the most appropriate and effective reaction seems to take up a reference to classical ideals of the sport ethos and their incessant reinforcement in the process of nowadays education and human self-understanding. In ancient Greece, the philosophy of sport was a complementary element of the whole phenomenon, serving as its idealistic final touch, while today it is increasingly used as a preliminary condition for the practice of sport and is indispensable for a continuation and harmonious development of its tradition. Therefore, the anamnesis of cultural sources of sport is not only of historic character but also, and primarily, has a therapeutic dimension. So, it seems worthwhile and justified to return, restore and reclaim some ancient philosophical ideals that once constituted the base of Greek sport in its great connection with anthropology, a general view of human potential in physical movement. The presented text examines the concept of virtue in ancient sport and philosophy and compares it with contemporary, especially postmodern philosophical (with references to Zygmunt Bauman and Wolfgang Welsch) understanding of human prowess, well-being and beauty.











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1 - 12 - 2009
13 - 1 - 2010


  • University School of Physical Education, Cracow, Poland


  • Bauman, Z. (1995). Ciało i przemoc w obliczu ponowoczesności. /The Body and Violence in the Face of Postmodernity/. Toruń: Uniwersytet im. Mikołaja Kopernika.
  • Cornford F.M. (1965). Principium Sapientiae. A Study of the Origins of Greek Philosophical Thought. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Deleuze, G. (1973). Pensée nomade. In Nietzsche Aujourd'hui? Paris: Union Générale d'Editions.
  • Dembińska-Siury, D. (1991). Człowiek odkrywa człowieka. O początkach greckiej refleksji moralnej. /Man discovers Man. On the Beginnings of Greek Moral Reflection/. Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna.
  • Guthrie, W.K.C. (1967). The Greek Philosophers from Thales to Aristotle. London: Methuen & Co. LTD.
  • Homer, (1946). Iliad. London and Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
  • Jaeger, W. (1954). Paideia. Die Formung des Griechischen Menschen, Bd. 1. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.
  • Krokiewicz, A. (1959). Moralność Homera i etyka Hezjoda. /Homer's Morality and Hesiod's Ethics/. Warszawa: Pax.
  • Welsch, W. (2004). Sport: Ästhetisch betrachtet - und sogar als Kunst? In "Kunstforum", Band 169.

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