Beautiful and sublime: the aesthetics of running in a commodified world

Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 43 (3):365-379 (2016)
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Abstract

In the United States, running as a leisure activity continues to grow in popularity. Healthism can explain some of this popularity, but it does not explain ultradistance running. Motivations for running can be seen through the framework of the Kantian beautiful and the sublime. Beauty arises through extrinsic motivation and relates to an economy of form, while the sublime arises through intrinsic motivation and relates to confronting the challenge of infinity. The commercial, casual, and competitive aspects of distance running correspond to the beautiful, while its wilderness, serious, ultradistance aspects correspond to the sublime. This framework is used to explain the resistance of ultrarunning to the would-be detrimental effects of commodification, as well as ultrarunning’s ‘wild turn.’

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Tim Gorichanaz
Drexel University

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