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In Review: The Philosophy of Play


I’m pleased to be able to share this excerpt from my review of The Philosophy of Play, which was recently published in the American Journal Of Play:

In April 2011, the inaugural Philosophy at Play conference brought together academics, play-sector workers, policy advocates, and analysts, among others, to make play the subject of philosophical inquiry and practice. The Philosophy of Play, edited by Emily Ryall, Wendy Russell, and Malcolm MacLean, is a collection of essays that arose from that conference. According to the editors, the objective of the collection is “to provide a richer understanding of the concept and nature of play, its relation and value to human life” and to provide “a deeper understanding of philosophical thinking and to open dialogue across these disciplines” (p. 2).

Drawing on a range of philosophical traditions including the work of Plato, Wittgenstein, Gadamer, Nietzsche, Sartre, Burke and Deleuze, the collection, like the ubiquitous concept of play itself, is vast in scope, made up of sixteen chapters varying slightly in length and depth. No specific overarching questions or themes dominate the purpose for each chapter, nor are the chapters organized thematically in parts. Putting together an anthology in this way would be especially challenging given the breadth of the subject; however, by accommodating various metaphysical, epistemological, ontological and ethical perspectives on play, the editors have done an excellent job illustrating the expansiveness of the field, while still highlighting a number of specific issues relevant to contemporary philosophies of play. In a way, the collection contains something for anyone interested in the subject of play, whether it be children’s play, game play, or language play, it’s a kind of ‘grab-bag’ containing numerous short, yet thoughtful, and well-written philosophical explorations of play.  […]

Read the entire review in Vol. 3 Issue 6 of the American Journal of Play

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