Continental Pragmatism: Enduring Life in the Strenuous Mood

  • Ron Welters
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 37)


Philosophy is often epitomized as the noble art of asking the right questions. In this chapter I will also try to formulate a sport philosophical answer to the question how we are to live in times of environmental crisis and moral desorientation. I will do so by broadening the practical philosophical perspective I developed so far. Firmly rooted in continental philosophy, over time I have increasingly become infected by William James’s pragmatist adage that truth can only be found in the practical consequences of philosophical thinking. Integrating the pragmatic stance into my continental approach, I now will argue in favour of a life fully lived in strenuous endurance sport, for I regard both traditions as complementary rather than exclusionary. Endurance sport, conceived as a committed and holistic lifestyle, rather than as a gratuitous playful pastime, is a preferential tool for carving out the good life we are to lead, and which leads into a sustainable future.

As will have become clear in previous chapters, for my continentally inspired view on the benefits of human endurance in general I am indebted both to Sigmund Loland’s ecosophical work and to Peter Sloterdijk’s kynical thoughts on how to change our lives through asceticism. In You must Change your Life, Sloterdijk regularly hints at possible directions for improving our lives. We should become more environmentally conscious, less susceptible for the temptations of hyper-consumptive modern life—“banalised Enlightenment”, in Sloterdijk’s wording —, willing to put in more effort when it comes to satisfying our vertical needs, becoming more resilient, mentally as well as physically. Still, there remain quite a few loose ends when it comes to concretely stepping over from theoretical ascetology to ascetic action. The tenacious question still is: how to concretize and materialise ecosophical-ascetological initiatives?

My aim in this chapter is to further develop Sloterdijk’s provocative, agonistic style in a pragmatist manner: how to change our lives for the better through properly practiced endurance sport, particularly of the cycling kind?


Continental philosophy Pragmatism Strenuous mood Endurance 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ron Welters
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Science in Society, Faculty of ScienceRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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