“The individual at play”. This sentence fragment bears an oddly abstract tone- when we think of play we usually attach a sense of glee or giddiness, surely lacking here. Moreover we might ask who this individual is- a child, an adult, or an animal? Yet we would think following on the work of Johann Huizinga that all humans have experienced play. Indeed he presents the idea that play preceded culture, in as much as animals play. My discussion narrows from the broad social elements of play and focusses on the individual, primarily in the philosophical sense and through analysis of the words themselves, “Individual” and “Play”. Play has tended to be derogated as in relation to work, and so perhaps has not enjoyed the long philosophical discussion that the notion of the individual has. Aristotle’s discussion of individuals appears in such works as “The Physics” and “The Metaphyics” and the medieval scholars such as Duns Scotus extend this discussion with the concepts of haeccity and quiddity. Perhaps the best known modern discussions are found in Heidegger’s writings on Dasein and Peter Strawson’s Individuals(1958).

A brief history of the singular

“Thisness” is how the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy characterises haecceity. It is the quality that allows us to differentiate one apple from another, even though they be of otherwise indiscernible difference. We can imagine two apples sitting beside each other, each sharing a similar appearance, volume, topology, and indeed taste and texture were we to eat them. yet although they be of the same type(which Duns Scotus termed quiddity) they are not the same individual.

Play can be cruel because to play in the sense of the free play we think of an activity that occurs without thought to outcome.
Development rests upon play? Show how the concepts build on that. To aid me in visualising the patterns of concepts I employed the Visuwords online visual dictionary, developed at Princeton University.

A sample of a word map from Visuwords online graphical dictionary(http://www.visuwords.com/) derived from Princeton’s Wordnet.

We can follow some philological paths starting from the individual as a development. From Development we can find meanings of both evolution and recrudescence. Recrudescence is to arise again. To rise again is to reanimate. From reanimate we find the meaning to recreate, from that hence to play. However, evolution sends us down a different path.

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