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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 41, Issue 3, September 2018

David Kennedy
Pages 285-302
DOI: 10.5840/teachphil201882992

Community of Philosophical Inquiry and the Play of the World

This paper seeks to identify the role of play in the design and function of Socratic dialogue as practiced in community of philosophical inquiry (CPI) in classrooms. It reviews the ideas of some major play theorists from various fields of study and practice—philosophy, cultural anthropology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive psychology, psychoanalysis, and education—and identifies the epistemological, ontological, and axiological judgments they share in their analyses of the phenomenon of play. It identifies five psychodynamic dimensions in which the Socratic play of “following the argument where it leads” can be identified: the “play space,” the “time of play,” “the rules of the game,” “the stakes in play,” and “play and power.” Finally, it suggest that there is a historical relationship between the reconstruction of Socratic dialogue in CPI and the cultural reconstruction of “child” in post-modern philosophy, with special attention to Gilles Deleuze’s and Felix Guattari’s notion of “becoming-child” as emblematic of an emergent “post-human” style of subjectivity.