Knowing the Score
How Sport teaches us about Philosophy (and Philosophy about Sport)
By David Papineau
How philosophy can illuminate sport and what sport can tell us about philosophy...
'A tour de force that provides fresh insight not only into the nature of sport, but cooperation, the mind, altruism, teamwork, leadership, tribalism and ritualism. It's a book that every sports fan should read, and every sports writer should absorb' Matthew Syed
'David Papineau's book is an important contribution to our thinking about sports, society, psychology, and moral philosophy. But it is also much more than that. Gripping from start to finish, it is a terrific read full of humour and good sense. You don't even have to like sports to enjoy it' Ian Buruma
Why do sports competitors choke? How can Roger Federer select which shot to play in 400 milliseconds? Should foreign-born footballers be eligible to play for England? Why do opposing professional cyclists help each other? Why do American and European golfers hate each other? Why does test cricket run in families? Why is punching tolerated in rugby but not in soccer?
These may not look like philosophical questions, but David Papineau shows that under the surface they all raise long-standing philosophical issues. To get to the bottom of these and other sporting puzzles, we need help from metaphysics or ethics, or from the philosophy of mind or political philosophy, as well as numerous other philosophical disciplines.
Knowing the Score will be an entertaining, fact-filled and erudite book that ranges far and wide through the sporting world. As a prominent philosopher who is also an enthusiastic amateur sportsman and omnivorous sports fan, David Papineau is uniquely well-placed to show how philosophy can illuminate sporting issues. By bringing his philosophical expertise to bear, he will add a new dimension to the way we think about sport.
David Papineau is Professor of Philosophy of Natural Science at King's College London and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. He is the author of eight philosophical books, and has served as president of the Aristotelian Society, the Mind Association, and the British Society for the Philosophy of Science.
He is also a keen amateur sportsman, and has competed as an adult at cricket, soccer, rugby, squash, field hockey, tennis, golf and sailing, without noteworthy success in any. He spends as much time as he can on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, where he and his family have a house and a number of small boats.
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- Publication date:
04 May 2017
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Entertaining . . . cogent and elegantly expressed . . . Papineau emerges as an intelligent, engaging companion and one with essentially sound judgment . . . Knowing the Score is a philosopher's eulogy to his preferred form of recreation, where playing sport becomes a virtue in itself . . . If you agree with this statement, as I do, then in Knowing the Score you'll find much to enjoy — Richard Beard, The Times
The first time that a world-class philosopher has written a book entirely devoted to sport . . . a scintillating read . . . a marvellous overview of an important subject . . . Above all, this book will strengthen the conviction of those who argue that sport does not merely provide marvellous entertainment but shines a light on fascinating aspects of the human condition — Matthew Syed, The Times
Philosophy and sports would seem to be as different as chalk and cheese. In fact, as David Papineau demonstrates in Knowing the Score, they complement each other, like macaroni and cheese. In 18 brief, clear, stimulating essays, the author, an accomplished philosopher by trade and an enthusiastic sportsman by avocation, shows how the sports we play and follow illuminate such matters as citizenship, the rule of law, cooperation, tradition, and race and ethnicity - that is, the important and enduring issues of social and political life — Michael Mandelbaum
This is what happens when a top philosopher with a razor-sharp analytical intelligence, a wicked sense of humour, and a clear-as-gin prose style takes on the world of sports, which he passionately loves both as a player and fan. Reading Papineau is like having the best sports-bar conversation ever. I was awed by his insights when I wasn't laughing at his anecdotes — Jim Holt
Excellent on the issues of nationhood and nationality in international sport. He writes with vigour on the collision between sport and money . . . intelligent, plausible investigation — Mail on Sunday
Valuable insight — Simon Kuper, Spectator
David Papineau's book is an important contribution to our thinking about sports, society, psychology, and moral philosophy. But it is also much more than that. Gripping from start to finish, it is a terrific read full of humour and good sense. You don't even have to like sports to enjoy it — Ian Buruma
Engaging — Michael Shermer, The Wall Street Journal Europe
Entertaining, innovative and rewarding — Michael Wheeler, Times Literary Supplement