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Showing posts from February, 2013

Oscar Pistorius, Sport and Life

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"Happiness is the activity of the soul expressing complete virtue." -- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

"All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal." --Rod Dixon, great Kiwi runner


Last night I watched the great sports documentaryThe Two Escobars. It's a must see for anyone interested in the intense and troubled relation between sports and society. In a prior post discussing the Lance Armstrong case, I wrote that part of what made his case so enthralling and ultimately tragic is the blurring of the lines between sport and life.

The Two Escobars tells that tale again, marking over and over again how the clean, crisp, well-refereed, and meritocratic space of the soccer field provided escape from the turmoil and violence and uncertainty of Colombian life. Then, how awfully and inexorably, the value of that space as a moment of escape became so great that it was consumed by the very forces that it initially was created to escape. No one could control Colo…

The Self-Monitoring Fallacy: Reflections on Self-Knowledge

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“We are unknown to ourselves, we men of knowledge - and with good reason. We have never sought ourselves - how could it happen that we should ever find ourselves?" So begins Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals. I happen to be teaching this book now, so I am re-reading it for perhaps the fourth time, and like all great books, it deepens and expands with each re-reading.

Nietzsche has many targets of criticism in the Genealogy, but the one that he mentions first is our relationship with knowledge. One of the fundamental goals of philosophical reflection (or maybe we should just say plain old thinking) is the old Socratic dictum: "Know thyself." Self-knowledge is a key to good living. In order to achieve what makes us happy in life, we need to know at least at some basic level what makes us happy.


But the self turns out not to be so easy to know. There are any number of impediments to self-knowledge, and you don't need a PhD in philosophy to know the primary obstacles.…