Education and Olympism: Coubertin’s Unfinished Symphony


  • Irena Martínková Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University


Olympism, Coubertin, sport, education, ethics


This paper draws upon Coubertin’s unfinished memoir The Unfinished Symphony and develops further the ideas on education and Olympism that he began to write in 1936, one year before his death. Coubertin uses the metaphor of ‘symphony’ to stand for the projects that humans create and develop in their societies, one of which is his Olympism, i.e. education that is carried out predominantly through competitive sport. Coubertin emphasises that he understands Olympism as a sub-project of a greater project of education for the new era (educational “symphonyâ€). However, at the end of his life he still felt that his major project, promoting a new kind of education, was still far from finished.

Author Biography

Irena Martínková, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University

Irena Martínková, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in kinanthropology. She researches in the area of philosophy of sport and sports ethics at the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. She is the author of Instrumentality and Values in Sport (Karolinum Press, 2013) and has published numerous chapters and journal articles on sport within the areas of phenomenology, Olympism, martial arts and Eastern thinking. She is Vice-President of the European Association of Philosophy of Sport (EAPS).