On competing against oneself, or 'I need to get a different voice in my head'

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 2 (3):353 – 366 (2008)
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In a recent paper, Kevin Krein argues that the notion of self-competition is misplaced in adventure sports and of only limited application altogether, for two main reasons: (i) the need for a consistent and repeatable measure of performance; and (ii) the requirement of multiple competitors. Moreover, where an individual is engaged in a sport in which the primary feature with which they are engaged is a natural one, Krein argues that the more accurate description of their activity is not 'competition', but an attempt at harmonious interaction. I raise a number of problems against both criteria and argue that traditional and adventure sports do both involve self-competition on at least two levels: bettering one's previous performance and resisting the desire to quit. I argue that self-reflexive competition is not so much with one's self (which is philosophically absurd), but within one's self, between conflicting motivations and desires. I explore what is involved in self-reflexive competition, particularly at a phenomenological, self-constituting level, and raise the question of whether it is appropriate for activity in wilder natural environments
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