What is the Role of Philosophy in Physical Education?


Indian meaning of philosophy is ‘to see behind the scene while Western world seeks its meaning in the ‘love for knowledge.’ But, in general, Philosophy derives the knowledge which satisfies the human curiosity. Philosophy of education is that knowledge which describes the definition and decides the definition and decides the aims, objectives and criterion of education.

When philosophy of education is applied to a particular field, such as, psychology, biology, history, physical education, sociology, anthropology, economics, etc. it seeks to bring practice into harmony with basic thinking in that field. It provides some theories, based on different streams of thinking, which help in working with and implementing that field in various aspects of life.



Idealism is that school of philosophy which believes in the reality of ideas only the objects, which we experience, do not have their existence in real sense. They are mere manifestations of ideas. Idealism as a philosophy stands in contrast with all those systems of thought that centre in nature (naturalism) or in man (humanism). According to idealism “to be” means to be experienced by a person.

Idealism holds that the order of the world is due to the manifestation in space and time of an eternal and spiritual reality. As to knowledge, idealism holds that knowledge is man thinking the thoughts and purposes of this eternal and spiritual reality as they are embodied in our world of fact.

As to ethics, idealism holds that the goodness of man’s individual and social life is the conformity of the human will with the moral administration of the universe.

Idealism accepts only one reality i.e., ideas, therefore it has concern with only mind spirit, and the self. It asserts that mind or spirit as each man experiences it in him is fundamentally real and that the totality of the universe is somehow mind or spirit in its essence.


According to idealists the world is in spiritual order that is capable of interpretation. The ultimate reality is self. Evil is not a real existent value. The individual self has all the freedom necessary to self determination.

Thus, when idealism is applied to physical education it instructs teacher to be a role model for the students. Physical education not only looks after the physical factor but also consists of those experiences which fulfill the needs of the individual’s nature and bring him the sense of satisfaction or well-being. The name of Plato is well known as a true idealist in the world.


Naturalism is greatly accepted by hedonists and utilitarianisms. According to them, pleasure is the highest good. ‘Maximum pleasure for maximum people’ is a famous axiom of hedonism. According to naturalism, reality consists of materials, forces, laws or processes in motion in space.


Ultimate reality is force or energy. Private experiences are quite unreal and secondary. The most acceptable life is that which keeps close to the simple and peaceful ways of nature. Orderliness and dependency are the two famous tools of these schools.

Naturalism has confidence in the orderliness of nature and believes that nature can be depended upon. Native naturalism attempts to designate someone substance as the matter of existence. Nuclear physics has destroyed this concept of the least common denominator in matter of the universe.

Energies suggest that energy is the one substance out of which the earth is made. Positivism is the complete dependence upon science as the only avenue of knowledge. Thus, naturalism asserts that pleasure is the highest good and the basis of moral judgments. The aesthetic experience is not an experience of all-embracing truth. There is no spiritual or supernatural import. Social values are synthetic values resulting from agreements made by-individuals.

When naturalism is applied to physical education, the holistic development of an individual, i.e., the physical, mental, social, emotional and moral skills, comes in focus which helps students in building personal qualities.



Realism is the theory that holds that the existence of objects is real. For this reason it is also sometimes called objectivism.

Both realism and objectivism are metaphysical theories concerned with the existence of things. In epistemology realism holds that in the process of knowledge things are independent of the existence and influence of the knower. Hence the main tenet of this theory in the epistemological field is that the object and its qualities are independent of and uninfluenced by the knower and the process of knowledge.

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