boxing, chess, and game theory

I recently read the sociologist Loic Wacquant’s Body and Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer. While the book as a whole offers a really intriguing ethnographic look into the culture and practices of boxers at a Chicago gym (including Wacquant himself), an off-handed paragraph struck me as perhaps of interest to social scientists more generally:

Thus the strategy of the boxer, as product of the encounter of the pugilistic habitus with the very field that produced it, erases the scholastic distinction between the intentional and the habitual, the rational and the emotional, the corporeal and the mental. It pertains to an embodied practical reason that, being lodged in the depths of the socialized organism, escapes the logic of individual choice. [from the footnote] One glimpses here in passing all that the strand of sociology inspired by game theory could gain by taking as paradigm a very “corporeal” game such as boxing rather than an eminently “intellectual” one like chess or military strategy. (2004: 98)


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