You can come to know something by observation, by testimony, or by working it out in your head. But there’s another way of knowing something that doesn’t involve learning because it doesn’t involve coming to know a pre-existing fact. This way of knowing arises when you do something intentionally.
It’s tempting to imagine that self-knowledge is easy to come by. All you have to do is introspect. The idea is that the mind is kind of like a clear glass fishbowl. If you want to know what’s going on, all you’ve got to do is take a look. But there are problems with this idea.
Most people seem think that knowing themselves is a good idea, or at least say that that’s what they think. “Know thyself,” is uttered reverently—as though it’s self-evidently a wonderful goal. I’m going to put self-knowledge on trial, and I’ll say up front that the case for the defence looks pretty thin.
The idea of human nature is riven with controversy. Some scholars—often those in the humanities—argue that there’s no such thing, while others—often those in the social and biological sciences—regard its “denial” as anti-scientific. So is there any point hanging onto this controversial idea?
The idea that athletics and philosophy are connected may sound strange at first. But if we see philosophy as a way of life rather than a set of beliefs, it’s not a stretch to imagine that athletic training can cultivate skills we need for the whole of our lives, both on and off the playing field.