Philosophy and Science in 21st Century Kinesiology

There has been a debate going on for ages, what is more important when it comes to answering questions about human life, Philosophy or Science?  Does the answer change when we look specifically at Kinesiology?  These are certainly great questions, and to find the answers, we must look to what each represent.  I propose you humor me by reading my blog as I try to uncover this relationship.


Taking the Measurement Turn

There has been a common misconception among people and that is Philosophy is difficult to trust.  Yet, throughout history, it has been recalled as the “Mother of The Sciences”(Kretchmar, 2005).  That sounds pretty trustworthy.  I suppose many think the trustworthiness of Philosophy is situational.  Yes, Science takes the Measurement Turn and records hard data and empirical evidence.  Most people would find it difficult to not trust Evidence and data.  But some questions simply cannot be answered by data. 

There are many different aspects of Kinesiology we can look at to see this illustration come into play.  Let’s look an example.  You’re on a team that is training for a triathlon.  Every Saturday morning, you get up at 6am, jump on your bike, and ride 20 miles with your team up through Silverado Canyon. We want to know if you thought it was a good bike ride this morning.  The Scientist will look at multiple physical data to answer this question.  They would probably measure the distance you rode, how fast it took you to take that ride, and so on.  They’d also look at physiological data as well.  They’d look at your heart rate to see how your cardiovascular efficiency was, they’d look at your muscles to see what kind of condition they were in, and all these different physical data that they can measure with instruments and devices.  1024px-Greek_philosopher_bustsBut let’s look at the question again, “Was it a good bike ride this morning?”  The Philosopher would take a much different approach to answering this question.  They would ask you about your experience.  No hard facts, no data, just a simple personal question to get the first-hand answer.  They take into consideration of feelings and personal thought to answer this question, and give meaning to personal experience.  Whereas data doesn’t even come close to the answer we were possibly looking for.  They completely missed the point of how it felt to be a human, riding your bike through the canyon.  This is where philosophy takes the cake.  “But I am sceptical that human behaviour could ever be explained by physics or biology alone.” (Baggini, 2012)

Consider these words from A. C. Grayling that go on to explain how although it might not seem like it, Science is an ever-changing field.  Scientists find answers to questions that produce more questions, or, through research, change those answers.  

 This leads us to believe that Science is not as reliable as once thought.  Yet, the fact remains that there is a need for both Science and Philosophy.  Consider this quote, “…Other findings call into question the very ability of the scientific method to assess accurately certain aspects of reality on a routine basis” (Bosworth, 2014).

So, then, where do the boundaries lie?  In Kinesiology, which do we rely on more?  I propose a happy medium.  In several instances, we need Science to find Empirical Evidence to measure to collect data.  In other instances, we need Philosophy to gather information about personal experience, and the intangible parts of being human.  So in conclusion I rest my head on my pillow at night, knowing there is a happy medium.  We need Philosophy to answer those questions in different aspects of Kinesiology that Science can’t. 

Works Cited

Baggini, Julian. “Philosophy v. Science, Which Can Answer the Big Questions of Life?”  The The Observer (2012) Web.

Bosworth, David. “Conscientious Thinking And The Transformation Of The Modern Sciences.” Raritan 33.3 (2014): 40-61. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Kretchmar, R. Scott, “Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity.” 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics (2005): 3-44. Print.


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