Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 401–410 | Cite as

Body, skill, and look: is bodybuilding a sport?

  • István AranyosiEmail author


I argue that bodybuilding should not qualify as a sport, given that at the competition stage it lacks an essential feature of sports, namely, skillful activity. Based on the classic distinction between Leib (the lived body) and Körper (the objective body) in phenomenology, I argue that bodybuilding competition’s sole purpose is to present the Körper, whereas sports are about manifestations of Leib. I consider several objections to this analysis, after which I conclude that bodybuilding is an endeavor closer to both beauty competitions and classical sculpture rather than to any other known sports.


Skill Sport Phenomenology Sartre Lived body 



I wrote this paper during my research fellowship at the Center for Mind, Brain, and Cognitive Evolution, Ruhr Universität Bochum, October 2016 – March 2017. Many thanks to Albert Newen and Shaun Gallagher for making this visit possible!


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBilkent UniversityAnkaraTurkey

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