Meaning and Use: Drama and the Aesthetic

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This paper considers David Best’s claim that descriptions of events in sport as being ‘dramatic’ or ‘tragic’ employ those terms in a figurative sense, along with Stephen Mumford’s rejection of that view. The paper begins by outlining Mumford’s argument before locating the nature of Best’s argument in an elaboration of Philosophical Investigations §43 and Wittgenstein’s wider employment of the concepts of a language-game and a form of life. It then looks closely at different uses of the term ‘dramatic’ before elaborating Best’s description of the conventions of drama in brief discussion of uses of the terms ‘tragic’, ‘illusion’ and ‘emotion’ and their cognates, while considering the implications of those for Mumford’s distinction between what he calls ‘real and imagined drama’. The paper then stresses some important differences between sport and drama, before concluding with some remarks on how we might understand descriptions of sport as being dramatic, and on the origins of the confusion in relation to this issue as being in the construction of philosophical theories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalSport, Ethics and Philosophy
Early online date14 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2020


  • aesthetics of sport
  • drama
  • language-games
  • meaning and use
  • the drama argument
  • Wittgenstein.
  • Aesthetics of sport
  • Wittgenstein


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