Sport in an Algorithmic Age

Aldo Houterman, ‘Sport in an Algorithmic Age: Michel Serres on Bodily Metamorphosis, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy’, Taylor & Francis,, DOI: 10.1080/17511321.2023.2190155, 17 Mar 2023

The French mathematician and philosopher Michel Serres (1930–2019) structurally relate algorithms to sports and bodily experience at multiple places in his oeuvre. According to Serres, sport actually enables us to reprogram and rewrite our behavior, moods and thoughts, and therefore modifies our algorithmic status (…). Against deterministic conceptions of the body, Serres argues that human bodies possess a ‘metamorphic’ nature that is similar to the procedural character of computer programs. This paper investigates the relationship between the algorithm and bodily existence through a reading (…) on sport. It will be argued that, against deterministic conceptions of the algorithm, the algorithm can actually broaden an understanding of the role of sports and physical activity. (…) Sport opens up the possibilities of our body to actively reprogram our gestures, expressions, moods and thoughts. Algorithms emphasize bodily existence as transformative, elastic and self-programming, rather than solid, deterministic and pre-programmed. (…) Algorithmization reveals the possibility for bodily metamorphosis, and actually embraces a broad and emancipatory understanding of sporting activities.

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