Play, Philosophy and Performance  book cover
1st Edition

Play, Philosophy and Performance

ISBN 9780367340667
Published February 16, 2021 by Routledge
258 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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USD $160.00

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Book Description

Play, Philosophy and Performance is a cutting-edge collection of essays exploring the philosophy of play. It showcases the most innovative, interdisciplinary work in the rapidly developing field of Play Studies.

How we play, and the relation of play to the human condition, is becoming increasingly recognised as a field of scholarly inquiry as well as a significant element of social practice, public policy and socio-cultural understanding. Drawing on approaches ranging through morality and ethics, language and the nature of reality, aesthetics, digital culture and gaming, and written by an international group of emerging and established scholars, this book examines how our performance at play describes, shapes and influences our performance as human beings.

This is essential reading for anybody with an interest in leisure, education, childhood, gaming, the arts, playwork or many branches of philosophical enquiry.

Table of Contents



Part I:  Play and the Performance of Morality


1          Do Toy Guns Kill People? Playing with Guns

            Chris Bateman           

2          Analyzing Morality via the Philosophy of Play

            Martin Weichold        

3          A Playful Approach to Cultivating Intellectual Virtues: Why So Serious?

            Yujia Song      

4          Ethical Dimensions of Play and Care: Reflections Based on Donald Winnicott’s Theory of Play and the Ethics of Care

            Alice Koubová and Petr Urban         


Part II: Language and Play In/And ‘The Real’


5          Language, Play, and Understanding: What Semantics Might Learn from Children

            Charles Djordjevic    

6          Living on the Edge: Zhuangzi, Ludus, and 遊 (you)

            Brandon Underwood 

7          Robert Pfaller and the Disappearance of Play in Contemporary Culture: Illusions without Subjects

            Kevin Kennedy           


Part III: Playful Aesthetics


8          Notes on Playful Cinema and Performance: Stop Making Sense

            Elena Pachner Sarno 

9          Childhood Ghosts with Boltanski and Benjamin

            Rosana Kohl Bines    

10        The Complexity of Play: A Response to Guyer’s Analysis of Play in Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man

            Kate Brelje     

11        How Computer Game Design Affects Moral Engagement: Mechanics Taking Over

            Oliver Milne and Viktor Ivanković    


Part IV: Play’s Performative Praxis


12        Unexpected Movements as Meaningful Expression in Play: Strange Twists of the Body

            Ellen Mulder  

13        Posthuman Interpretations of Mutual Play between a Human, Cat and Machine

            Marleena Mustola      

14        Time and Creativity in Survival Games: Bergson Plays with the Tao

            Ivan Mussa     

15        Digital Play as an Epistemic Experience

            Rita Santoyo Venegas

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Malcolm MacLean is a historian whose research focusses on the cultural and social experience and identities associated with movement and sport, with a specific interest in colonial, imperial and decolonial relations and in sport-related political activism. He is a co-founder of the biennial international Philosophy at Play conferences, as well as a member of the Editorial College of The International Journal of the History of Sport and editorial boards of Sport in History¸ Journal of Sport History and Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies. His academic affiliations include Honorary Associate Professor at The University of Queensland, Australia, Honorary Research Fellow at De Montfort University, UK, and Senior Research Associate at the University of Gibraltar, Gibraltar. 


Wendy Russell is a researcher and educator on children’s play and Visiting Fellow at the University of Gloucestershire, UK, where she developed and taught on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes on children’s play and playwork. Her research focuses on supporting children’s right to play, particularly in terms of the politics of space, policy and ethics. She is a co-founder of the biennial international Philosophy at Play conferences and on the editorial board of the International Journal of Play.


Emily Ryall is Reader in Applied Philosophy at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. She is former Chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association as well as a member of the executive committee for the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport. She also sits on the editorial panel for the Journal for the Philosophy of Sport, and regularly provides editorial assistance to other sports related journals.