Athletic virtue: Between east and west

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 4 (1):16 – 26 (2010)
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Despite the rich philosophical heritage of the East, the connection between athletics and education for character or virtue is more commonly associated with the West. Classical Eastern philosophy does focus on virtue, but it seems to exclude sport as a means of cultivation since the Confucian is uninterested in victory and the Daoist seeks passivity and avoids contention. A closer look reveals, however, that Eastern conceptions of virtue have much in common with those of Ancient Greece so often linked to sport. Combining research in the history and philosophy of sport with analysis of such texts such as the Analects of Kongzi (Confucius), Laozi's Daodejing , Plato's Republic and Epictetus's Handbook , this paper argues that the enlightened practice of sport has the potential to cultivate qualities common both to de and aret . The fact that sport was linked to virtue in Ancient Greece but not Ancient China derives from different ideas about social prestige more than different conceptions of ethical education. Indeed, the enlightened practice of modern sport may develop a more universal kind of virtue; thereby providing common ground upon which to heal the East-West split in a way characterised by mutual respect and emphasising our common humanity



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Heather Reid
Exedra Mediterranean Center, Siracusa, Sicily

References found in this work

Three ways of thought in ancient China.Arthur Waley - 1939 - Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Edited by Zhuangzi, Mencius & Fei Han.
Sport and Moral Education in Plato’s Republic.Heather L. Reid - 2007 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 34 (2):160-175.
Olympic Sport and Its Lessons for Peace.Heather L. Reid - 2006 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 33 (2):205-214.

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