Sport in an Algorithmic Age: Michel Serres on Bodily Metamorphosis

Aldo Houterman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The algorithm has become an increasingly important concept in understanding human behavior in recent years. In the case of sport, human bodies are seen as superficial to the driving force of the algorithm, whether it be genetic, behavioral or surveillance-technological algorithms (Harari 2015, 2020; Zuboff 2019). However, 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 (Serres 1999, 2019). 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 of both Harari and Serres 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-141
Number of pages16
JournalSport, Ethics and Philosophy
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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