Earlier this month, I wrote about the authors who influenced my early thinking about the topics covered in KineSophy. In this post, I present the views of some of those authors in their own words. Here are quotes from six authors on the relationship between physical, mental, spiritual and ethical wellness, along with a brief explanation of each quote’s meaning within the author’s overall work and a direct link between that author and my thoughts on the subject. Welcome to the quotable KineSophy.
Plato, The Republic
In The Republic, Plato presents his argument for the ideal state, in which select children are groomed to rule from a young age. Plato believed their education should be multifaceted, comprising arts, physical fitness and traditional academic subjects. This well-rounded education is emblematic of the virtues espoused on KineSophy.
Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
Aristotle presents his most complete argument for human virtue in The Nicomachean Ethics. An essential point of this account is the idea that every object has a function which defines its virtue. For humans, that function is acting in accordance with reason. A virtuous human is one who consistently acts reasonably. Thus, thinking about virtue is not enough; a good person must practice virtue through physical action. Aristotle’s argument from function was essential for my thinking about the ethics of human movement.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile: Or, On Education
Rousseau considered Emile the “best and most important” of all his works. In this treatise on the nature of education and of man, Rousseau tackles the question of how individuals can maintain their innate goodness within a corrupting society. This quote continues, “I do not know what doctors cure us of, but I know this: they infect us with very deadly diseases, cowardice, timidity, credulity, the fear of death. What matter if they make the dead walk, we have no need of corpses; they fail to give us men, and it is men we need.” For more on the complementary relationship between the body and mind, check out Fitness and Intelligence and Cognitive Ability and Physical Performance.
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
French philosopher Albert Camus argued for continual striving in the face of an absurd and meaningless life. In this short essay, he turns the Greek myth of a king condemned to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a mountain for all eternity on its head, suggesting that Sisyphus is happy because he controls his own fate. Camus’ famous essay inspired my first KineSophy article.
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
Rand championed the individual in all her writings, and The Fountainhead is one of the most famous expressions of her philosophy. In this passage, protagonist and architect Howard Roark likens the simple elegance of a well-designed building to the human body, all while making a larger point about human integrity. Similar notions of self-directed physical action informed my action theory of virtue and fitness.
Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage
In this semi-autobiographical novel, Coelho blends self-discovery lessons with his personal experiences navigating the road to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Part adventure story, part philosophical guidebook, The Pilgrimage encourages self-awareness, introspection and taking risks to safeguard one’s values. This idea of the holistic benefit of physical challenge inspired my thoughts on fitness and resilience.