|Note my white belt: a sign of my|
profound humility (and forgetfulness)
Organised by Sylvia Burrow, from Cape Breton University, it's been a fascinating couple of days, with papers, workshops and demonstrations.
A few of my highlights: Marc Ramsay (Acadia U.) gave a robust defence of the legality and morality of mixed martial arts; Mark Rowlands (U. of Miami) characterised the martial arts as 'play' (with help from Moritz Schlick and Martin Heidegger); Sylvia Burrow argued for the role of martial arts in developing women's moral integrity and autonomy; Mason Cash (U. of Central Florida) highlighted the absence of practical conflict resolution techniques in the 'peaceful' martial arts; and Kelly Smith (Clemson U.) gave a very helpful lesson in meditation.
We even had an 'open mat' day today: philosophers putting aside speculation for two hours of kata and technique demonstrations. I learned a great elbow block, and was reminded again of the frustrating fragility of my neck, as I watched a Brazilian jiu-jitsu demonstration.
The papers are not posted online, but you can read a sample of mine, on Plato and the martial arts, below:
Plato’s mature philosophy seems to be an acceptance of the body’s ambivalence. Yes, physicality saddles his pupils with strong desires, which can drag their moral horses downwards, away from the truth of the Forms, and right living and governance. But material existence is also a way to inspire and consolidate the ascent that Plato describes: in the martial arts, his pupils learn what it is to overcome or guide their baser urges, in the service of a higher goal. Physical exertion prepares them for, and aids, their striving for moral discipline. Wrestling teaches a lesson, in the intellectual sense, but it also trains them: in ethically beneficial habits.