Review of Klein, Defining Sport [Book Review]

Reason Papers 40:99-104 (2018)
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Abstract

Arriving at definitions in philosophy is as time-honored as it is controversial. Although learned reflection in the west about sport goes back at least to the time of ancient Greece, the sub-discipline of the philosophy of sport emerged in the world of Anglophone analytic philosophy in the 1970s. Shawn Klein’s edited volume, Defining Sport: Conceptions and Borderlines, is both the fruit of and a valuable contribution to such an emerging field (indeed, it is the first book-length study of its topic within philosophy of sport). Although Huizinga had sought to define the phenomenon of play very broadly in his Homo Ludens (1938), investigation of the overlapping questions of what is sport? what is a game?, and what is play? were central to the sub-discipline at its inception. Foundational was the work of Bernard Suits, whose Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia (1978) sought to refute Wittgenstein’s claim that the notion of game was indefinable. In order to refute Wittgenstein, Suits sought to establish the conditions or properties both necessary and sufficient of the concepts of game and sport such that all instances of those concepts share such properties.

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Thornton Lockwood
Quinnipiac University

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