Different Kinds of Perfect: The Pursuit of Excellence in Nature-Based Sports

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 6 (3):353-368 (2012)
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Excellence in sport performance is normally taken to be a matter of superior performance of physical movements or quantitative outcomes of movements. This paper considers whether a wider conception can be afforded by certain kinds of nature based sport. The interplay between technical skill and aesthetic experience in nature based sports is explored, and the extent to which it contributes to a distinction between different sport-based approaches to natural environments. The potential for aesthetic appreciation of environmental engagement is found to be strongly dependent on whether or not environmental engagement is exploited for the end of producing a quantifiable result or enhancing technical skill. It is also argued that an existential rather than spectatorial attitude to aesthetic experience is offered by specifically nature oriented sport. Aesthetic experience achieved in this way is therefore neither passive nor detached, but extends Berleant's concept of participatory environmental aesthetics and underpins both an alternate (wide) conception of excellence in sport activity and a richer experience of aesthetic engagement than more objectivised standpoints

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Leslie A. Howe
University of Saskatchewan


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