The ‘physically educated’ person: Physical education in the philosophy of Reid, Peters and Aristotle

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This article will derive a definition and account of the physically educated person, through an examination of the philosophy of Andrew Reid, Richard Peters and Aristotle. Initially, Reid’s interpretation of Peters’ views about the educational significance of practical knowledge (and physical education) will be considered. While it will be acknowledged that Peters was rather disparaging about the educational merit of some practical activities in Ethics and Education, it will be argued that he elsewhere suggests that such practical activities could be educationally worthwhile in and of themselves. In Education and the educated man he specified that practical activities should be regarded as educationally important if they are either transformed by theoretical understanding and/or pursued to the point of excellence. In suggesting that education involves the cultivation of both theoretical and practical human excellences it is argued that Peters’ philosophy of education begins to take on a more Aristotelian bent. After exploring Aristotle’s notion of virtue (human excellence) and his discussion of physical training in The politics, it is claimed that physical education activities might be most worthwhile when they extend the moral habits and/or modes of thought of pupils, towards excellence. It is concluded that physically educated persons should be defined as those who have learned to arrange their lives in such a way that the physical activities they freely engage in make a distinctive contribution to their long-term flourishing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-920
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number9
Early online date15 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • virtue
  • flourishing
  • physical education
  • choice


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