A GREAT PHILOSOPHER ON BASEBALL AS A RELIGION. Mary Jane quite frequently refers to baseball as a religion for me. The South Side Sox blog called my attention to this essay from 1919 by Morris Cohen, whom Bertrand Russell once called “the most significant philosopher in the United States”. The title is “Baseball as a National Religion”, and it is reprinted on John Thorn’s Our Game blog. Here are some quotes which give the flavor of Cohen’s argument: “I … maintain that, by all the canons of our modern books on comparative religion, baseball is a religion, and the only one that is not sectarian but national.” Baseball offers “redemption from the limitations of our petty individual lives and the mystic unity with a larger life of which we are a part.” Baseball has even more of the religious quality of Greek drama, “since we are absorbed not only in the action of the visible actors but more deeply in the fate of the mystic unities which we call the contending cities.”

Cohen says that: “When my revered friend and teacher William James wrote an essay on “A Moral Equivalent for War,” I suggested to him that baseball already embodied all the moral value of war, so far as war had any moral value.” He concludes by looking forward to “the establishment of the true Church Universal in which all men would feel their brotherhood in the Infinite Game.”

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