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Philosophy in Physical Education and Sport


The study of philosophy is important to physical educators. In keeping with a whole-person concept of physical education, it helps us to develop personal phillosophies that affect every area of our actions in our daily lives. An examination of four areas of interest will explain the need to understand philosophy and its uses: (l) the definition and application of philosophy in physical education and sport; (2) the never area of sport philosophy; (3) the major philosophical teachings; and (4) how you can “do” philosophy in physical education and sport.

What Is Philosophy?

Phllosophy has long heen a nebulous concept to students. It is difficult to define clearly because the delinitions may seem to disagree. Harold Barrow, who suggests that philosophy can be viewed in several way, presents three concepts: (1) philosophy as “a study of the truth or the principles underlying all knowledge”; (2) philolosophy as

“a study of the most genera causes and principles of the universe”; and (3) philosophy as “a system for guiding life. Al you can see, philosophy is not a small area of interest: it is so broad that it is hard to define. Barrow views philosophy as both a preses and its resulting product. The process is a method use to establish a system of values, and the product is the system of values, that eventually is produced by the process.

Randolph Webster notes that the original meaning of philosophy was a “love of Truth” or a”love of wisdom.” It was a search for both facts and values that are studied without any bias or prejudice. As he points out:

Phylosophy is concerned with questions of right and wrong, justice, freedom and discreation. Though there is a distinction between philosophy and science. Philosophy can be said to be a science since it organizes knowledge about man and the universe for the purpose of evaluation and comprehension…. Philosophy criticizes, evaluates the worth of things, and synthesizes facts; while science describes, discovers, and analyzes facts… (Scientists) know how (atomic energy) works and how to use it, but only philosophers deliberate about where and for what purpose it should be used. Both processes are essential.2

In ancient times, philosophy included the physical and sociai sciences, but as knowledge expended and specialized disciplines devoleped hilosophy was eventually left with meaning, values, appreciation, interpretation, and evaluation as its subJect matter.

We might say that science is an examination of what can be proven with physical experiments and evidence, while philosophy is a examination of what cannot be proven by physical evidence. Philosophy attempts to extend meaning far beyond known facts and provide direction for person life. Webster spoke of philosophy as a science, but philosophy is not science’s in its common definition. Philosophy tries to go far beyond scince’s solid, physical facts.

Some of the relationship between philosophy and science are discussed by Elwood Davis and Donna Miller. They note that science is precise and defined by proven, concrete facts, but philosophy goes beyond the facts and into areas of speculation that probably can never be proven. Actually, the scientific method of research is very similar to the methods used to gain knowledge in philosophy.

However, science requires observable data, through phiiosophy does not. Philosophy is concerned largely with meanings and values. The dividing line between philosophy and science is not always clear, and threre is considerable overlap. Science may rely on “cord, hard facts,”but its directions determined by human emotions and philosophies as much as any other area of study or life.

Religion is closely related to philosophy because religion is philosophical by nature. Religion is concerned with the idea of God and people reiationship between God and reople; it also include ethics and ethical practices. Reiigion is often self-conscious about its lack uf scientifically provable ideas, but that does not make it less valid that philosophy. Both religion and philosophy try to go beyond the the known and into unknown. Each Seeks to answer questions that science may never answer.

Art is also closely related to philosophy because it does not involve scientific judgment or process. Art is an area of values wheere people seek to express, fulfil, and understand themselves-a complex process that goes beyond the limitations of science. Art is by its nature subjective: it is concerned with an inner self that is beyond the bounds of science. Indeed, we might say that art and science are simply different approaches to reality.

@:Physical Educatin and Sport by William H Freeman

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