Monday, November 28, 2005

Plato's Theory of Forms and Six-Man Football


Flag Girl & Broncs
Originally uploaded by mdt1960.
One of Plato’s more notable observations of our world has to do with his theory of forms or ideas. Bertrand Russell discussed this in his History of Western Philosophy with the following:
Here Plato explains that, whenever a number of individuals have a common name, they have also a common “idea” or “form.” For instance, though there are many beds, there is only one “idea” or “form” of a bed. Just as a reflection of a bed in a mirror is only apparent and not “real,” so the various particular beds are unreal, being only copies of the “idea,” which is the one real bed, and is made by God. Of this one bed, made by God, there can be knowledge, but in respect of the many beds made by carpenters there can be only opinion. The philosopher, as such, will be interested only in the one ideal bed, not in the many beds found in the sensible world. He will have a certain indifference to ordinary mundane affairs: “how can he who has magnificence of mind and is the spectator of all time and all existence, think much of human life?”

Take this quote and substitute references to the game of football for “bed” and this is how it might read:
…There are many games of football, but there is only one form of a football game. Just as a televised broadcast of a football game is only apparent and not “real,” so the various games that are played at any given time are unreal, being only copies of the “idea of the game,” which is the one real football game, and is made by God. Of this game of football, made by God, there can be knowledge, but in respect of the many games of football composed of the multitude of players, coaches, and referees there can only be opinion. The philosopher, as such, will be interested only in the one ideal football game, not in the many games that can be found in the sensible world. He will have a certain indifference to ordinary mundane contests: “How can he who has magnificence of mind and is the spectator of all football and all existence, think much of pre-game hype and post-game drama?”

Plato would have loved six-man high school football.

This stripped-down version of football results in a game centered around the basic elements—dare I say “form”—of the game: solid tackling, good ball-handling, proper execution of play, and speed. These fundamental elements are often overlooked or hidden behind all the extraneous and more attention-demanding material that can accompany a game—especially at the professional level. Therefore we can concur that football is always purest and thus closest to its form if the various elements of “fluff” are eliminated such as the instant replay, marching bands, the clever athlete-endorsed commercials, the play-by-play analysis of John Madden, cheerleaders, trivial statistics, the computerized and oversized scoreboards, the gigantic stadiums, and yes, five players from each team. This is football’s form.

3 comments:

Plato said...

Dear Mr. Morgan,

I just read your essay on my essay regarding form and imitations. Rather well done. Of course you did not address the basic "form" of imitation let alone the world of sensation, perception, conception, constipation, digitization, prestidigitation and procrastination. All worthy of further essays.

This activity (another interesting "form" don't you think? Is that a verb or noun?) you reference called football. It sounds rather violent with all the tackling and executions !! There are youth who execute? Holy Hot Zeus, that would not be acceptable in my bedroom, which by the way is rather simple - straw, sheep skin and a few rocks in the warmest corner of my "cave".

i wish you well as you consider further the implications of form and not form. So much to think about so little time.

Respectfully yours,

Plato

Anonymous said...

Are you really Plato? I thought he was dead.

andi said...

I wrote a summary about "High School Football in the USA" to show what is going on there in the HS. During my investigation i found this side.
Very nice to read and i hope you continue this side.
Some similarly to you i like every football game that there is. right down to 6-man football.

Greetings from Germany


One Comment:
For me: the most basic element beside "solid tackling, good ball-handling, proper execution of play, and speed" in football is "Advancing the ball" so that every yard/single play counts.
You are right NFL and College are to much about business but still it is football.