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Grace: From Sports to Philosophy

Although this is a follow-on discussion, one need not have attended the Sportsmanship discussion, in which we identified two views of sportsmanship, which we referred to as "integrity" and "conduct."  We looked at how conduct is governed by rules, their acquisition, and limitations--all important concerns when trying to foster sportsmanship in others.  But what is sportsmanship "on the inside"?  (Our psyches being, arguably, the only place where "integrity" makes sense.)


Grace is a good word, I think, to connote this informal--but hopefully not ineffable--experience.  Though not specific to sportsmanship, let's use it as a way into sportsmanship.  (For one thing, Grace in the spiritual sense would be a really slippery theme, but the sporting context makes it graspable.)  Of course, there is the notion of accepting victory or defeat gracefully:  why is this not something that comes more easily?  (Why might it be difficult for us even to talk about it?)  Another avenue available to us is the physicality of sports:  we all understand what it means to be athletically "graceful."  (I won't accept that these two uses of the word are unrelated.)  Perhaps we can use the various sports for which we listed examples of sportsmanship, to explore how habitual movements might lead to grace and integrity.  (Recall that it is the most skilled players whose sportsmanship example gets followed.)  As we are aiming at the psychological experience, films can be excellent source of inspiration (the Incentives discussion was largely powered by common narratives, and Charity drew on personal stories).  


We definitely will continue having the extended mid-session break/group project, and I promise you will find it rewarding.  I'm not even trying to plan or predict where the topic will take us after that, but another thread outstanding from Sportsmanship was Play (another standout theme from 2012).  I'm sure we'll have a good time, finding our way back from sports to philosophy!

Jeff 



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  • charlie

    A very fun evening with smart, friendly people. I enjoyed every conversation.

    July 16, 2014

  • Becky

    Always leave with more than I came with.

    July 16, 2014

  • DaveR

    You folks consistently give me tons of robust stimuli to ruminate about after these meetings. Awesome.

    July 16, 2014

  • Jay C.

    graceful

    July 16, 2014

  • Jeff G

    July 16, 2014

  • Jeff G

    I am so looking forward to this. We're going to be a crowd, so please arrive early if you can to help hold space. We'll start with a round of show and tell, so if you have a prop that focuses us on a relevant topic (esp. one covered in the announcement), bring it!

    July 15, 2014

  • Jay C.

    Wonderful comment, Harlan.

    Does our sports involvement lead us toward grace, or away from it ?

    From Lapham’s quarterly:
    In first-century Egypt, Dion Chrysostom watches as Alexandrians drag themselves home after the chariot races.
     What then do you suppose those people say when they have returned to their homes at the ends of the earth? Do they not say, “We have seen a city that in most respects is admirable and a spectacle that surpasses all human spectacles, and yet,” they will add, “it is a city that is mad over music and horse races and in these matters behaves in a manner entirely unworthy of itself. For the Alexandrians are moderate enough when they offer sacrifice or stroll by themselves or engage in their other pursuits, but when they enter the theater or the stadium, just as if drugs that would madden them lay buried there, they lose all consciousness of their former state and are not ashamed to say or do anything that occurs to them.

    1 · July 14, 2014

    • Jay C.

      I think it may come down to discipline, Harlan. Or maybe focus.

      1 · July 14, 2014

    • Jeff G

      Don't let the spectators' desire for thrills and agonies obscure the grace of athletic movement and the humility of sportsmanship.

      July 15, 2014

  • Carlos C.

    Argg! I have to miss this one too. Mother-in-law has taken ill, so I'm Mr. Mom for the week.

    July 15, 2014

    • Jeff G

      Looking at the pilot for the TV Series Grace Under Fire. Your week, Carlos, sounds like an episode of Roseanne :-) Chin up!

      July 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Perhaps difficult to practice grace when ego gets in the way.

    1 · July 15, 2014

  • Jay C.

    from timelesshemingway.com
    The phrase "grace under pressure" first gained notoriety when Ernest Hemingway used it in a profile piece written by Dorothy Parker. Parker asked Hemingway: "Exactly what do you mean by 'guts'?" Hemingway replied: "I mean, grace under pressure." The profile is titled, "The Artist's Reward" and it appeared in the New Yorker on November 30, 1929. The first published use of the phrase, however, was in an April 20, 1926 letter Hemingway wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. The letter is reprinted in Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters[masked] edited by Carlos Baker, pages[masked]

    July 15, 2014

  • Becky

    Hi Dave,
    Are you driving over? I was going to take bart, but would carpool with you if it can work out. Let me know. Thanks

    July 14, 2014

  • Harlan L.

    I can't make it for this one. Something came up. It's interesting to look at the etymological connection between "grace" and "charisma." Wikipedia: charisma is from the Greek χάρισμα khárisma, which means "favor freely given" or "gift of grace". The term derives from χάρις (charis), which means "grace". Derivatives from that root (including "grace") have similar meanings to the modern sense of personality charisma, such as "filled with attractiveness or charm", "kindness", "to bestow a favor or service", or "to be favored or blessed". The Greek dialect used in Roman times employed these terms without connotations found in modern religious usage. The Greeks attributed charm, beauty, human creativity or fertility to goddesses called Charites. Social scientists have expanded the Greek meaning into two distinct senses: personality charisma and divinely conferred charisma.

    2 · July 14, 2014

  • Jay C.

    Hemingway wrote about "grace under pressure", as a metaphor useful in both sport and war. I think of it as a sort of heroic equanimity.

    July 11, 2014

    • Rin

      I was thinking of exactly the same quote! "Courage is grace under pressure." It's one of my favorites.

      July 11, 2014

  • Jeff G

    Afterword: Sportsmanship http://www.meetup.com/Philosophy-Cafe-Cafe-Philosophique/messages/boards/thread/45507402 has a recap of the last meeting, and is a good place to keep discussion going until we meet again.

    July 10, 2014

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