a shift in direction perhaps

August 14, 2007

I might be on the verge of a direction shift in my thesis, or perhaps an understanding of what I’ve been doing this last year :)
I have been having troubles with the idea of developing a definition in an open system, as it is technically impossible to define something which is in an open system or set. So I have been reading a bit about definitions and it seems that even the experts have troubles with what a definition is, how it is to be used and how it changes.

This had led me to a focus shift; that I cannot re-define something that can’t possess a definition in the first place; that I have to model it instead. But that said, models are difficult and dangerous things, they are prone to error, oversimplification or incorrect assumptions, and I really do like the “the best model of the world is the world itself” attitudes. Therefore a model doesn’t seem appropriate.

I want something that helps me express the “nature” of sport and games, includes all those instantiations that currently exists, and will be able to identify and classify those that will come into existence.

I have picked up on method instead of model.

Further thoughts as they come to hand.


Intermittent posts and structural change

August 14, 2007

Unfortunately, I am attending to some major structural and focus changes in the direction of my research and thus have been dealing with that of late.

As a follow up to the conference circuit of a month or so ago, I am planning a paper based upon aspects of the Sporting Traditions conference presentation that I gave.


The Conference road trip

July 2, 2007

The Australian Society of Sport History annual conference is over, and now I am at the Australian Association of Philosophy annual conference.

The ASSH conference was quite interesting, especially for a non-historian. I found most of the speakers interesting and engaging. I especially enjoyed the “Drugs in sport” stream and the debate that followed.

I’m currently at the start of day two of the AAP. The analytic tradition of philosophy has thus far been pitched at a level that is completely over my head. So unfortunately,  I’m finding little that I actually understand, and even less that I really want to understand. I’m starting to find the analytic tradition something of a bore; but I think this has a lot to do with my lack of a classical philosophical background and personality that makes my eyes glaze over whenever somebody starts talking in detailed terms – it was the same with organic chemistry.

Today I plan to attend:

Logic: Mark Colyvan – Principle of Uniform solution

Philosophical Psychology: Richard Rummery – Rousseau’s narcissus

Applied ethics: Fritz Allhoff – Autonomy of nanoethics

Applied ethics: Susan Dodds – Disagreements in Bioethics policy and democracy

The last two I’m particularly interested in.  Hopefully, further reports to come.

Oh, and I finally met Russell Blackford :)

Who is a very nice chap


ANZALS conference, Melbourne Jan 2008

June 15, 2007

Given that my University (Victoria University, School of Human Movement, Recreation and Performance) is hosting this event, please find below the notice and call for papers for the 8th Biennial Conference for the Australian and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies .

Leisure academics, scholars, researchers, managers, and service delivery staff are invited to attend the Australian & New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies (ANZALS) conference in Melbourne, Australia from 9-11 January 2008. The theme for the conference is “Leisure is the key…unlocking people and communities”. Come to Melbourne to enjoy the best of leisure and contribute to the dialogue about leisure’s capacity to unlock people and communities. For more information about the conference please go to http://www.staff.vu.edu.au/anzalsconference/index.htm

Call for Papers!!

The call for papers has been open since March and closes on 1 July 2007 so please check the web link below to get your abstract into the review process. There is also scope to have a refereed paper considered for the special edition of Annals of Leisure Research – all the relevant information is on the website – http://www.staff.vu.edu.au/anzalsconference/PapersCall.htm

Please contact John Tower if you have any questions or comments about the conference.

Eighth Biennial ANZALS Conference

Leisure is the key … Unlocking people and communities

Conference dates:
Wednesday 9 January to Friday 11 January 2008.

Call for papers:
Papers are invited that address the theme for the conference and explore outcomes that emanate from leisure. Details regarding abstract proposals and refereed papers are available via the Conference website.

Register your interest to receive updates about the conference by sending an email to Teresa.Kaczynski@vu.edu.au with the subject line of ANZALS 2008 Conference. All the details for the conference planning and organisation are available from www.staff.vu.edu.au/ANZALSConference/

Book your spot and unlock your own leisure potential by attending the 2008 ANZALS Conference.

 More information about ANZALS can be found at www.staff.vu.edu.au/ANZALS/

 Come to Melbourne to enjoy the best of leisure and to contribute to the dialogue about leisure’s capacity to unlock people and communities.

Conference participants will be able to:
• share their leisure research,
• explore leisure issues,
• build professional networks,
• learn more about leisure studies
• consider motivators, constraints and precursors to leisure participation, and

• explore leisure outcomes such as individual well being, inclusive recreation, active communities, and social capital.
Conference venue:

The conference will be held at the Sir Zelman Cowan Centre in the School of Law at Victoria University. The venue is located on Queen Street in the heart of the legal district of the Melbourne CBD.



Professor Richard Rorty died

June 12, 2007

We have lost another great philosopher;  Professor Rorty died on Friday 8 June. The New York Time obituary below comes courtesy of Dr Dennis Hemphill, Professor Terry Roberts and Professor William Morgan.

The New York Times
June 11, 2007
Richard Rorty, Philosopher, Dies at 75
By PATRICIA COHEN

Richard Rorty, whose inventive work on philosophy, politics, literary
theory and more made him one of the world’s most influential
contemporary thinkers, died Friday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 75.

The cause was complications from pancreatic cancer, said his wife,
Mary Varney Rorty.

Raised in a home where “The Case for Leon Trotsky” was viewed with
the same reverence as the Bible might be elsewhere, Mr. Rorty
pondered the nature of reality as well as its everyday struggles. “At
12, I knew that the point of being human was to spend one’s life
fighting social injustice,” he wrote in an autobiographical sketch.

Russell A. Berman, the chairman of the Department of Comparative
Literature at Stanford University, who worked with Mr. Rorty for more
than a decade, said, “He rescued philosophy from its analytic
constraints” and returned it “to core concerns of how we as a people,
a country and humanity live in a political community.”

Mr. Rorty’s enormous body of work, which ranged from academic tomes
to magazine and newspaper articles, provoked fervent praise,
hostility and confusion. But no matter what even his severest critics
thought of it, they could not ignore it. When his 1979 book
“Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature” came out, it upended
conventional views about the very purpose and goals of philosophy.
The widespread notion that the philosopher’s primary duty was to
figure out what we can and cannot know was poppycock, Mr. Rorty
argued. Human beings should focus on what they do to cope with daily
life and not on what they discover by theorizing.

To accomplish this, he relied primarily on the only authentic
American philosophy, pragmatism, which was developed by John Dewey,
Charles Peirce, William James and others more than 100 years ago.
“There is no basis for deciding what counts as knowledge and truth
other than what one’s peers will let one get away with in the open
exchange of claims, counterclaims and reasons,” Mr. Rorty wrote. In
other words, “truth is not out there,” separate from our own beliefs
and language. And those beliefs and words evolved, just as opposable
thumbs evolved, to help human beings “cope with the environment” and
“enable them to enjoy more pleasure and less pain.”

Mr. Rorty drew on the works of Freud, Nietzsche, Heidegger,
Wittgenstein, Quine and others. Although he argued that “no area of
culture, and no period of history gets reality more right than any
other,” he did maintain that a liberal democratic society was by far
the best because it was the only one that permits competing beliefs
to exist while also creating a public community.

His views were attacked by critics on the left and the right. The
failure to recognize science’s particular powers to depict reality,
Daniel Dennett wrote, shows “flatfooted ignorance of the proven
methods of scientific truth-seeking and their power.”

Simon Blackburn, a philosopher at Cambridge University, has written
of Mr. Rorty’s “extraordinary gift for ducking and weaving and laying
smoke.”

Mr. Rorty was engaged with and amused by his critics. In a 1992
autobiographical essay, “Trotsky and the Wild Orchids,” he wrote that
he was considered to be one of the “smirking intellectuals whose
writings are weakening the moral fiber of the young”; “cynical and

nihilistic”; “complacent”; and “irresponsible.”

Yet he confounded critics as well, by speaking up for patriotism, an
academic canon and the idea that one can make meaningful moral
judgments.

His reason for writing the 1992 essay, he said, was to show how he
came by his particular views. Richard McKay Rorty was born in 1931 to
James and Winifred Rorty, anti-Stalinist lefties who let their home
in Flatbrookville, N.J., a small town on the Delaware river, be used
as a hideout for wayward Trotskyites. He describes himself as having

“weird, snobbish, incommunicable interests” that as a boy led him to
send congratulations to the newly named Dalai Lama, a “fellow
8-year-old who had made good.”

Later, orchids became another obsession, and his love of the outdoors
continued throughout his life. An avid birder for the last 30 years,
Mr. Rorty liked to “head over to open spaces and walk around,” his
wife Mary said yesterday from their home in Palo Alto. His last bird
sighting was of a condor at the Grand Canyon in February. In addition
to his wife, Mr. Rorty is survived by three children and two
grandchildren.

When he was 15, Mr. Rorty wrote, he “escaped from the bullies who
regularly beat me up on the playground of my high school” to attend
the Hutchins School at the University of Chicago, a place A. J.
Liebling described as the “biggest collection of juvenile neurotics
since the Children’s Crusade.”

In his early career, at Wellesley and Princeton, he worked on
analytic philosophy, smack in the mainstream. As for the surrounding
1960s counterculture, he said in a 2003 interview, “I smoked a little
pot and let my hair grow long,” but “I soon decided that the radical
students who wanted to trash the university were people with whom I
would never have much sympathy.”

By the 1970s, it became clear that he did not have much sympathy for
analytic philosophy either, not to mention the entire Cartesian
philosophical tradition that held there was a world independent of
thought.

Later frustrated by the narrowness of philosophy departments, he
became a professor of humanities at the University of Virginia in
1982, before joining the comparative literature department at
Stanford in 1998.

Over time, he became increasingly occupied by politics. In “Achieving
Our Country” in 1998, he despaired that the genuine social-democratic
left that helped shape the politics of the Democratic Party from 1910
through 1965 had collapsed. In an interview, he said that since the
’60s, the left “has done a lot for the rights of blacks, women and
gays, but it never attempted to develop a political position that
might find the support of an electoral majority.”

In recent years, Mr. Rorty fiercely criticized the Bush
administration, the religious right, Congressional Democrats and
anti-American intellectuals. Though deeply pessimistic about the
dangers of nuclear confrontation and the gap between rich nations and
poor, Mr. Rorty retained something of Dewey’s hopefulness about
America. It is important, he said in 2003, to take pride “in the
heritage of figures like Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt,
Martin Luther King, and so on,” he said, and “to use this pride as a
means of generating sympathy” for a country’s political aims.

Washington Post


Conference presentations

May 16, 2007

A short update.

I’ll be presenting a paper at both the Sporting Traditions XVI conference in Canberra 27-30 June and the Australian Association of Philosophy annual conference in Armidale 1 – 6 July.

Sporting Traditions XVI…

Title: Sport Philosophy: Early defnitional approaches

The generally accepted definition of sport in sport philosophy circles is that,

…all sports are indeed games. That is, a game may also correctly be termed a sport if it possesses the additional characteristics of requiring physical skill or prowess to be demonstrated by the participants in the pursuit of its goal.

The above definition articulated by Meier (1995, pp. 31-2) primarily built upon the work of Suits (1979; 1989; 1995) . However, prior to the acceptance of this definition there were many different philosophical, sociological and anthropological approaches to developing a definition of sport. Those approaches ranged from categorisation or taxonomy systems, to essentialistic or analytic definitions, Wittgestinian family resemblance and non-definitional systems.

From the mid 1950′s until the mid 1990′s a varied and lively discussion ensued in regards to this issue, however, once the Suits/Meier formulation was established, much of the discussion ceased, and recently has all but disappeared from the literature. As part of my PhD research I am re-examining the definition of sport in an attempt to remove the physical component. The notion of physicality has become somewhat muddied when we consider ongoing changes to notions of embodiment, identity and humanity in these days of emerging technologies and distributed e-living.

In this paper I intend to examine several of the early approaches towards developing a definition of sport, and relate them to my current research work in attempting to redefine sport.

Meier, KV 1995, ‘Triad Trickery: Playing With Sport and Games’, in WJ Morgan & KV Meier (eds), Philosophic Inquiry in Sport, 2nd edn, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, pp. 23-35.

Suits, B 1979, ‘What Is a Game?’ in EW Gerber & WJ Morgan (eds), Sport and the Body: A Philosophical Symposium, 2 edn, Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, pp. 11-7.

—- 1989, ‘The Trick of the Disappearing Goal’, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 16, pp. 1-12.

—- 1995, ‘Tricky Triad: Games, Play and Sport’, in WJ Morgan & KV Meier (eds), Philosophic Inquiry in Sport, 2nd edn, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, pp. 16-22.

AAP 2007…

Title: Sport Philosophy: an Introduction

Sport Philosophy formally began its existence as a discipline in 1972 with the formation of the international association for the philosophy of sport. Regrettably, IAPS has recently lost Professor Bernard Suits, one of the disciplines founding fathers. Therefore to commemorate the work of Professor Suits this paper intends to shed some light on this interesting but little known discipline; and some of the foundational work that Professor Suits developed; much of which is still in evidence today.

This paper will start with an overview of Suit’s work and his influence on subsequent developments in this field and progress to detail some of the history, enduring themes and current research work being carried out, both abroad and here in Australia. This paper aims to provide an overview and introductory discussion of the salient issues of this young discipline, in an effort to inform the parent discipline and broaden its appeal.


cheating?

March 24, 2007

It is probably old news now, but I recently read the BBC article about a gamer who, frustrated at not being able to complete a section of a particular console game built a machine to do it for him.

Link located here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6396925.stm

This, of course, attracted accusations of cheating.

To my way of thinking, in our modern world, there in very few methods of cheating; and at this juncture I must admit I haven’t as yet read the body of knowledge on cheating, so I am coming from a raw position. However, I would suggest that the only method of cheating would be to deliberately breach the rules (constitutive, regulatory and auxillary)  of the game or sport, only insofar as that game or sport does not employ arbiters of the rules, that is to say, referees, umpires or judges etc.

A  referee is the final arbiter of the rules, and therefore is in a position to make judgement upon those rules as to what is or is not a breach; in many cases regardless of what the written code indicates, as dictated by the particular situation at hand.  However, in situations in which the activity in question does not have an arbiter, then the participants are reliant upon their own judgement to keep to the rules of the game or sport, and therefore to me, this is the only situation in which cheating can occur. Therefore cheating is a participant of the activity knowingly breaching the rules when it is expected that the participant engage in enforcing the rules of the activity and, the participant is concievably the only person aware of the breach.

Incidentally, as an aside, I’d suggest that since the realistic goal of most modern, professional (i.e. corporate)  sports (and games) is to win at any cost, then the concept of cheating is diminishing and possibly under threat of extinction.

Returning to the auto-bot scenario, our auto-bot builder has analysed the situation and developed a solution to the unnecessary obstacle.  Utilising an unusual means, outside of the regularly accepted behavioural patterns.

So, in the case of our intrepid auto-play bot developer, is there a auxillary rule explicit or implied by the creator of the game, that the game must be exclusively played  by a human? And even if there is such a rule, was not the human player, engaged in playing the game whilst developing an alternative solution to the unnecessary obstacle presented. A solution, which was legal in terms of the rules of the game as laid down by the developers?

Alternatively,  is there a regulatory rule prohibiting the use of additional performance enhancement technology in pursuit of the game? Given that many gamers (and sportpersons) rely upon non-drug based performance enhancement technologies in the pursuit of their sport or game, then, couldn’t the auto-bot be considered jusat another legal mechano-electrical performance enhancer, on a par with a pair of modern  running shoes?

I guess this is all leading to the questions, what is cheating in the modern context?, and how much enhancement or extension of human ability is legal?

Where does the human end and the enhancement technology begin?


Professor Bernard Suits

March 15, 2007

Professor Bernard Suits died last month. I had hoped to go to Canada for the World Leisure Conference in 2008 and meet him.
Professor Suits was one of the most influential researchers in the early days of the philosophy of sport; and a pioneer in definitional approaches towards games and sport. It is his definition which forms the basis of our present approach, and mostly remains in tact today, thirty odd years after he devised it.

His death is a loss to the discipline and my condolences go with his family and friends.


As time goes by…

February 11, 2007

All good intentions aside, it seems life takes a bit more time that expected and therefore updates here are somewhat sporadic.

latest life events:

1. Relocated to Sydney from Melbourne: a traumatic experience. Apart from taking a lot of time and effort, I now find myself isolated and removed from my ph.d supervisor. This of course makes obtaining advice and having meaningful and synergistic discussions somewhat difficult.

2. The previously posted article has been accepted for publication in the World Leisure Journal later this year. The article has gone through some structural modification at the suggestion of the referee’s and is now much less speculative in nature and introduces more of Dr Hemphill’s cybersports topic interest.

3. At present I am in the process of writing the first draught of one of the literature review chapters. This is proving to be a little more difficult than I intially anticipated. Getting general ideas and connections between authors and subjects is ok, but doing it simply and elegantly is much more difficult.

4. Paid employment in terms of lecturing a TAFE sport business class has materialised. However, the time committment to developing class materials and assignements etc is much greater than I anticipated. Perhaps this is more due to my inexperience as a teacher/lecturer and therefore minimal class preparation skills?

Sydney is an interesting place, although much hotter and stickier than Melbourne., so therefore a little more uncomforatable. However there does seem to be a lively philosophy community here.

I’ve become interested in Plato’s ideas on the body – rejection of the body as immaterial. It appears that I might be able to use Plato’s rejection of the body as supporting my position that physicality is redundant in terms of a modern notion of sport, but at this stage I haven’t read anywhere near enough to have more than vague ideas.

Blogs:

In terms of game culture, there are very interesting discussions going on over at Terra Nova. http://terranova.blogs.com/

Conferences:

Some interesting conferences that I’d love to get to, but finances and other considerations (potential examiners attending) , do not permit me to attend (in chronological order):

Australian Sports Commission: Our Sporting Future

http://www.ausport.gov.au/events/osf2007/ Brisbane, 21-23 March 2007

“Star” Keynote speakers : Fred Coalter and Andy Miah.

Somatechnics Sydney

http://www.somatechnics.org/content/section/4/26/ Sydney April 19-21

Australian Fitness Expo (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane)

http://www.fitnessexpo.com.au/

Sydney April 20-22

Ubiquitous Media: Theory Culture and Society 25th Anniversary Conference

http://www.u-mat.org/ Tokyo University, 13-16 July 2007

Katherine Hayles and Friedrich Kittler are the stars here

Images of Play and Leisure: 8th Annual Summer Film Symposium

http://www.oldfilm.org/ Bucksport, Maine USA 19- 21 July 2007

Currently reading:

Methany, E. (1968) Movement and Meaning, Ch 6 “Sport Forms” pp 57-82, McGraw-Hill

and

Hemphill, D. (1992) Sport, Policital Ideology and Freedom, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 16(1), pp 15-33.


Sport, Recreation and Leisure Technology Issues

December 4, 2006

Sport, Recreation and Leisure Technology Issues

Mr Christopher Jones and Dr Dennis Hemphill

School of Human Movement, Recreation and Performance

Victoria University

Melbourne, Australia

Abstract.

The sport, recreation and leisure industry is adopting a growing arsenal of technological innovations, some of which will have far-reaching implications and consequences. This period of rapid change should cause us to consider:

a. What will be the impacts of these new and emerging technologies on the way in which we play and consume sport and leisure?

  1. Elite and commercial sport is always looking for a new performance edge, how is this ongoing process going to be implemented to the benefit of sport and should we manage the adoption of certain technologies? (e.g. medical implants, drugs, genetic modification, cyborg enhancements, mental behaviour “implants”)

The “level playing field” issue takes on a whole new dimension when training regimes and technological artefacts provide skewed performance advantages. “Drugs in sport” becomes an ambiguous issue when near future implanted bio-computers will be able to “manufacture” drug-like substances from the athletes own body and direct them to specific targeted sites in the body for maximum effectiveness.

This paper will examine some of the issues surrounding emerging technologies, sport and leisure and discuss some about the anticipated effects of these technologies on our future sport and leisure practices.

We need first to understand that the human form – including human desire and all its external representations – may be changing radically, and thus may be re-visioned…five hundred years of humanism may be coming to an end as humanism transforms itself into something we must helplessly call posthumanism.


[1]Christopher Jones christopher.jones9@vu.edu.au

Dr Dennis Hemphill dennis.hemphill@vu.edu.au


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