Running and Agential Fragmentation

September 20, 2023
University of Leeds

Room 1.03 Botany house, Unviersity of Leeds
United Kingdom

This event is available both online and in-person


University of Leeds

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Why do so many people spend so much time running? Different people will have their own reasons: some will seek competition, others want to challenge themselves, and others still simply like to be outside. One theme in writing about running is that running provides us with a respite from the world. Different people understand this respite in different ways: some take up running to get time away from their thoughts, others seek to reach a flow state in which their mind and bodies are brought together, and others still seek respite from the troubles of everyday life. In this workshop, we want to use the idea that running provides us with respite to explore the way we can segment our lives into different parts, with different goals and practical orientations. The idea of agential fragmentation has been explored by Bernard Suits in his book The Grasshopper, where he argues that games are the voluntary overcoming of ancestry obstacles, and that game-playing opens a window to the utopian possibility go world in which everything do is done for its own sake. Using running to provide a terrain for discussion, we aim to explore the nature, motivation, and rationality of the kind of agential fragmentation which we engage in through the pursuit of hobbies, amateur sports, and games.

Some questions we aim to explore:

* How should we understand the fragmentation of agency?
* Why do games, hobbies, and (amateur) sport allow us to fragment our agency?
* What are the costs and benefits to agential fragmentation? Does fragmentation allow us to develop skills and virtues, or does it stand in the way of moral and intellectual unification?
* Is fragmentation rational, irrational or arational? Can we appropriately hold conflicting beliefs, preferences, and goals in different fragments of our lives?
* What kinds of agential fragmentation are distinctive to running? How can we handle them, and what problems and benefits do they have?

Schedule (all times UK summer time GMT+1)

1-1.50 “What Are We Doing When We Are Training?” Paul Faulkner (Hallamshire/Brighton Phoenix/University of Sheffield)
1.50-2.40 “Being and Running vests: Sarter, Merleau-Ponty and the meaning of Running” Dave Ward (Hunter’s Bog Trotters/University of Edinburgh)
2.40-3.20 COFFEE BREAK
3.20-4.10 “Performance-Enhancing Virtues and Vices” Sabrina Little (Hoka/Christopher Newport University)
4.10-5.00 “The Politics of Hobbies” Joshua Habgood-Coote (Bristol and West AC/University of Leeds)

6-7.00 Public event: philosophy for Runners link at eventbrite

Please email [email protected] for the link for online participation

This event is organised under the GROUNDs project at the school of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science at the university of Leeds. This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 818633).

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