Contemporary Athletics & Ancient Greek Ideals

Contemporary Athletics & Ancient Greek Ideals

Daniel A. Dombrowski

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226155463

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Despite their influence in our culture, sports inspire dramatically less philosophical consideration than such ostensibly weightier topics as religion, politics, or science. Arguing that athletic playfulness coexists with serious underpinnings, and that both demand more substantive attention, this book harnesses the insights of ancient Greek thinkers to illuminate contemporary athletics. The author contends that the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus shed important light on issues—such as the pursuit of excellence, the concept of play, and the power of accepting physical limitations while also improving one's body—that remain just as relevant in our sports-obsessed age as they were in ancient Greece. Bringing these concepts to bear on contemporary concerns, he considers such questions as whether athletic competition can be a moral substitute for war, whether it necessarily constitutes war by other means, and whether it encourages fascist tendencies or ethical virtue. The book philosophically explores twenty-first-century sport in the context of its ancient predecessor, revealing that their relationship has great potential to inform our understanding of human nature.