Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This paper argues that history has treated play as a special kind of antipathetic existential duality, characterized often by the notion that play contains both good (fun) and bad (waste of time) elements. So widespread are these antipathetical play dualities in play theories that there is reason to think of all types of play as basically territories for existential affective ambiguities, an approach developed in my prior book The Ambiguity of Play (1997). There it is contended that these play dualities (from Kant to Goffman) are functional transcendents beyond the “work ethic” using formulae as positive as those of Huizinga (1944) or as negative as those of Freud (1938). The hypothesis here, therefore, is that these play dualisms, although they are inherently pleasurable, also have an adaptive function mediated primarily by the underlying character of the primary versus secondary emotions in all forms of play as this is inferred from the biology of Damasio (1994, 1999, 2030) and the neurology of Fredrickson (1998). In our present account play is seen to balance the antipathetical negative emotional effects of sadness, shock, fear, anger, disgust, and apathy, by regulation through the positive secondary emotions: of pride, empathy, embarrassment, guilt, and shame, all of which become sociological and biological representations underlying the various basic kinds of existential evolutionary struggles for survival presented in this article. It will be shown that this duality of the emotions and their ludic management become the mediators for evolutionary struggles and presumably underlie the issues of reproduction, social power, and territoriality as in Darwin’s evolutionary interpretations (1872).

Keywords: play, history, emotion, adaptation

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.