The Will to Powerlift: Biophysical Reality and the Creation of Culture


There is an ongoing joke – often said with a sigh of despair – within various communities: those who struggle with mental health, or chronic pain, or disabilities of any sort. This joke might, in fact, be one nexus of these communities – what brings them together in irritation – and it goes like this: “Have you tried yoga?”
The often-given unsolicited advice to “heal thyself” using physical movement speaks to a deeper issue at hand, one long-entrenched in our (at least, Western) mindset: physical movement is a cure for weaknesses, and one need only exercise to “get better.” There is a link between the strength and training of the body, and the cultivation of the mind – a link present from the gymnasiums in Plato’s Republic, to late nineteenth century strongmen like Eugen Sandow and Bernarr Macfadden, to “self-care” and “wellness” movements today.
“Weakness is a crime! Don’t be a criminal!” went the slogan of American strongman and one of the “fathers” of the Physical Culture movement, Bernarr Macfadden. And fertile, indeed, was his influence on ideals of masculinity, femininity, the health of the nation, mental well-being, and moral aptitude.

How to cite:

Mueller, Laura. “The Will to Powerlift: Biophysical Reality and the Creation of Culture.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 5, no. 4 (2021): 1-7. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2021.0035.


Laura Mueller
Department of English, Philosophy, and Modern Languages, West Texas A&M University
2403 Russell Long Blvd. Canyon, TX 79015, USA

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