Sport, Sisyphus, and Schopenhauer

A tumultuous week of sport presents the philosopher with a series of powerfully emotive images. The dizzying highs evident on the faces of the Indian cricket team as each of them realises a life-long dream of winning the world cup, in front of a packed crowd in their nation’s largest city; the terrifying lows of an imploding Rory McIlroy as he throws away the best chance that he’s ever likely to get to win arguably the greatest golfing prize going. We’ve all been there (in life I mean, not leading the Masters with one day to play) – well, most of us anyway – as our dreams and ambitions irrevocably slip away from us. For those lucky enough to have avoided that so far, there remains the undeniable certainty that one day they too will lose everything; in the great hospital of life we are all terminal cases, and one day we all must die!

Sisyphus: The first aspiring weightlifter

How very bleak this is, and no wonder so many philosophers have felt forced to accept a pessimistic outlook. We live, we strive, we fail, and we die. If we cannot find any hope of something beyond death, then it seems that life is indeed reduced to being little more than “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. That life is meaningless, or essentially comprised of suffering, is not a new idea, but it is one that is rarely eloquently expressed – the finest expression, in my opinion, to be found Continue reading “Sport, Sisyphus, and Schopenhauer”

Interview: Climbing and Philosophy

Stephen E. Schmid is the author of Climbing – Philosophy for Everyone: Because It’s There. Stephen is also Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Wisconsin–Rock County.  His current research focuses on motivation in sport and education.  In the philosophy of sport, he has published and presented on the role of motivation in the conception of play.  Stephen has been rock climbing and mountaineering for more than 20 years.

Why did you decide to edit a book on climbing and philosophy?
I had the idea to pursue the climbing and philosophy book for a year before I approached Wiley-Blackwell with the idea.  The book idea seemed like a great way to merge my two passions.  In addition, I had started to pursue some research in the Philosophy of Sport and examples from climbing proved relevant to the problem I was pursuing.  The merging of climbing and philosophy seemed like an obvious move. Continue reading “Interview: Climbing and Philosophy”