Scylla and Charybdis: the Purist's Dilemma

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This paper explores the view that, on Mumford’s account of the purist, to the degree that the purist adopts an aesthetic perspective, he or she doesn’t watch the sport in question, and to the degree that he or she does watch the sport, there is a loss of aesthetic appreciation. The idea that spectators oscillate between partisanship and purism means that the purist is unable to avoid either the Scylla of not actually watching the sport, or the Charybdis of loss of aesthetic appreciation at any given point. Ultimately there seems to be both a sport-shaped hole and an aesthetic-shaped hole in Mumford’s account of the purist.

It is argued that oscillation is incapable of dealing with the problem precisely because it is disjunctive in nature and entails the spectator either watching sport from an aesthetic perspective or from a partisan perspective at any given time. An alternative conception of the aesthetic is considered that offers one way of dissolving the purist’s dilemma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-196
Number of pages22
JournalSport, Ethics and Philosophy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2016


  • aesthetics
  • partisan and purist
  • sport spectatorship
  • Aesthetics


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