We at Football Prism (two blokes currently first-year students in Scotland, Charlie Wood and Oliver Warner; both plastic Scots!) like to think of ourselves as engaging in the philosophy of football. Yet, for all that the term ‘philosophy’ is widely used, in football and in life, we don’t mean philosophy in the sense usually employed today. To possess a ‘philosophy’ today is usually to possess a set of beliefs, and although in itself this is no bad thing, this set of beliefs is typically taken as sacrosanct, without ever being questioned or reconsidered. To use a footballing example, talk of Arsene Wenger’s footballing ‘philosophy’ is, typically, talk of Wenger the dogmatist; a man who has great conviction in his beliefs about how football should be played, but without such beliefs being open to any great consideration. As a result, Wenger is often derided as short-sighted or narrow-minded for holding such store by his ‘philosophy’ even when his team is unsuccessful.
We instead use the term ‘philosophy’ in its original sense. Etymologically, the word originates from the Greek phrase ‘love of wisdom’. Although philosophy is itself not easy to define, it essentially refers to thinking about the world rationally in an attempt to gain greater understanding of its nature, whilst presuming nothing about its nature. Philosophy, in other words, is not dogma, but is an activity which actively eschews dogmatism, and which is motivated (as its etymology suggests) by the desire to know about the world. Hence, when we describe ourselves as engaging in the ‘philosophy of football’, we mean discussing ideas, challenging what people know (including ourselves), and applying different frameworks and methods of thought to different subjects, problems and interests relating to football, all via the twin media of articles and weekly podcasts. From this, we simply hope to gain a variety of different, hopefully insightful, perspectives on the beautiful game.
We do not believe our word is the final one, nor superior to anyone else’s (except perhaps Andy Townsend’s!). The best thing we can do is stimulate and entertain our readers, and if we do this, we will have accomplished our goal. Hope you enjoy!