The Body-Mind Split Can and Must Be Repaired

The Ultimate Athlete

by George Leonard

© 2001 North Atlantic Books, Revised Edition, Pg. 19

The ideal unity of physical and spiritual has been called “irreparably lost to us.” Athletes and intellectuals often live in different worlds, to the detriment of both. Athletes tend to become insensitive and authoritarian. Intellectuals tend to become disembodies brains, unaware of the consequences of their thinking. But:

The split can and must be repaired. The age of cheap technological energy is over, for a while at least. The coming age will call for human physical resources. Complex ecological problems will require sensitivity to nature and other people, the kind of sensitivity that can come only if we are also sensitive to our own bodies and feelings. We shall discover that the mind-body split constituted a major error in Western thought, one that must never be repeated. We can learn to experience our bodies as models of the environment, the world, the universe, as aids to the highest philosophical speculation.

Athletics can return to their rightful place of honor in the arts and humanities. The physical-education department can stand at the center of the campus, the foundation stone of the entire educational enterprise.