Bergson and Athleticism

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 7 (2):231-244 (2012)
Abstract
The work of Henri Bergson has gone almost completely unnoticed in philosophy of sport literature. This in no way indicates the level of relevance his programme may carry for the subject. Many of the entrenched debates that have historically helped to shape the field are mirrored by Bergson's own concerns regarding perception and skill acquisition. As such, a thorough study of how the Bergsonian programme might approach the topic of athletic action is in no wise an idle pursuit ? in fact, very much the opposite. My intention in this paper is twofold: first, to indicate the natural commerce that exists between Bergson's philosophy and the philosophy of sport; second, and perhaps more ambitiously, to demonstrate that his approach to perception and action not only anticipates, but in some cases may help to edify, certain unresolved issues within the field. The paper develops in three parts. In part I, I provide a brief summary of Bergson's theory of perception as it is developed in Matter and Memory (1896). Parts II and III will apply that theory to two of the central aspects of human motor activity: in part II, I investigate what it is to be in possession of skilled motor behaviour ? to make that behaviour ?automatic?, as it were; in part III, the controversial subject of what it is to acquire and modify skilled motor behaviour will be examined
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