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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Philosophy of Play

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Play is commonly regarded as the stuff of childhood, with adults who play seen as belonging to unusual fringe groups and sub-cultures. However if we’re really honest with ourselves the situation is actually quite different. Play keeps life interesting, whether you get sucked into any sport show going,  or if you are more drawn into the world of fashion, or even if you simply enjoy the odd game of Tetris you’re enjoying forms of play.

Watching or participating in team sports is one of many socially acceptable ways to appreciate play. The same could be said of the enjoyment of playing with identity and expression which are common to fashion. There is no doubt in my mind that a great majority of the more diverting activities which we participate in on a daily basis can and should be understood as forms of play.

I’ve been blogging about ‘toys, life and people’ over at johnthetoyshopguy for over a year now and I recently decided to write a book about the philosophy of toys/play. There’s such a rich mixture of sub-topics within this basic idea; does what we played with as children fix certain aspects of our personality/world-view? Why does society contrast ‘toy’ with ‘real’? Do we ever stop playing? And if we don’t does it help to be conscious of the fact that many activities which we take seriously can also be recognised as forms of play? What role do toys play in shaping cultural notions like gender?

I’m in the very early stages of planning my book so I’d welcome any feedback/advice you might have. It would also be great to hear what you think of my book ‘Living the Good Life in a Modern World‘ now available at the kindle store (first chapter available as a free sample). Thanks for reading, Cheers, John

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Posted by on 27 September, 2013 in Philosophy

 

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5 things that doing philosophy will help you with OR How to Become a Jedi

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Perhaps you’ve always thought ‘why’ so you’re now considering reading some philosophy. Alternatively maybe you’ve somehow landed in a philosophy class and you’re wondering ‘why???’. Either way, this list should help you get a grip on just exactly what you should expect to get out of studying philosophy. It should also show you why I think that studying philosophy is the closest thing to Jedi training you’re going to find on this planet. Here’s the list, philosophy provides:

1. An appreciation of just how bad many of the arguments you hear in your day are. This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it leaves you feeling superior but on the other talking about it to non-philosophers might get you labelled as a know-it-all. Mostly it’s supposed to build up your ability to spot nonsense and double-talk, so it should bring the added advantage of helping you avoid being drawn in or conned. Another advantage of this is a heightened ability to notice (and correct) flaws in your own arguments. Realising this skill can help you become a master manipulator; “These are not the droids you’re looking for”.

2. Answers which lead to more questions. Yes philosophy will provide answers (contrary to popular belief) but with these answers come more questions. With this in mind, if the thirst for knowledge keeps you going then more questions will just add to the fun, but if you want an absolute answer to the fairly ambiguous questions common to philosophy you’re likely to be frustrated. The thing is though, philosophical questions will never have clear cut absolute answers, that’s what makes them philosophical. (OK I’ve got nothing Jedi related for this one)

3. An ability to make difficult situations into abstract problems. This can lead to an easier means of finding a solution but it can also leave you tied up in your own thoughts. Use your new abilities wisely. (OK back to Jedi training now).

4. You’ll never look at anything quite the same way again. You’ll find that after a certain level of study you’ll start to find hidden depth and meaning in practically everything. One of the main benefits of this is that you’ll rarely feel bored again. (In Star Wars this is familiarity with the force in philosophy it’s familiarity with what we call ‘the meta’)

5. You’ll start to gain the ability to see arguments from the other person’s side and with this you’ll find that it becomes easier to let things go. In effect philosophy could make anger a rare event and one you can distance yourself from at that. (this kind of thinking can keep you from the dark side)

OK perhaps the last 2 are a little Vulcan too, but they’re still pretty Jedi and there’s no denying that they’re an awesome set of skills to acquire. Hope you enjoyed the post, if you disagree/have anything to add, feel free to drop a comment below. Thanks for reading, Cheers, John

PS. If you fancy seeing me use my Jedi/philosopher skills on the peculiar world of children’s toys pop on over to my other blog: John the Toy Shop Guy and if you’d like to have a look at my first book ‘Living the good life in a modern world’ follow this link 🙂

 
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Posted by on 21 September, 2013 in Philosophy

 
Aside

This is a common technique for getting the creative juices flowing and this week I embark on writing new material (not simply editing old chapters as I have been doing), so I feel the need to amp up my game. basically you juxtipose seemingly unrelated subjects and try to write a story from them. Here’s my list (one from my bag, one from outside the bus and one that hit me at random). Random first: a blue whale, now my bag: a shopping list and outside the bus: a church.

Morris looked around him, stretching as far as the horizon in all directions lay desolate miles of frigid water. Funnily enough staying afloat wasn’t causing him too much bother but he knew he had to get out of the water soon or the cold would kill him.

The cold must have been getting to him because his memory just wouldn’t seem to provide any inkling of how he’d got here. He remembered taking a walk past the harbour of the fishing village where he lived. He had just taken his crumpled little grocery list out of his shirt pocket when a storm started to kick up and the next thing he knew he was bobbing around in the sea. Cold fingers of sea water were clawing through his mind and wiping his senses away. His teeth felt like they were going to burst and he could barely see straight. If he didn’t try swimming to shore soon he would lose any sense he had left.

He had always been a good swimmer so his movement through the water came naturally to him. To his bemused relief after just a few minutes of mindless movement he began to notice something solid on the horizon, ‘well that was easy’.

The land in the distance was both cruelly easy to see and alarmingly hard to get to. What took minutes to appear in his field of vision took Morris almost an hour to reach. When he finally got close enough to the shore to make out buildings he locked on to a hardy little granite church perched just behind a rocky patch of beach. Hauling his body through the icy water, Morris noticed that he’d lost all feeling in his fingers or toes, he needed to get out soon.

Morris dredged the last of his energy lumbering up onto the rocky shore. Thankful to be back on solid ground he hugged the gritty sand and lumpy stones beneath him and rejoiced as he heard someone running towards him. He tried to yell but his brain was numb and all that escaped his lips was a long drawn out moan.

“My God this one’s massive, I’ll have to call in a lot of help on this! They’re never going to believe me.”

Morris didn’t understand what this guy was talking about he leaned over to get a better view and saw a tiny man, like a pixie, take a miniscule mobile phone out of his pocket and make a call.

“Yeh Alec, it’s Robert, you’re never going to believe what’s washed up this time. I’m no expert but it sure looks like a blue whale.”

Panicking Morris craned himself round to confirm the reality that was already beginning to set in. As the last vestiges of his old memories ebbed away the whale led out a deep and penetrating groan.

Some Excercise

 
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Posted by on 10 September, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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