For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Leisure and play in Plato's teaching and philosophy of learning"

by Hunnicutt, Benjamin Kline (1990)


Abstract A detailed investigation of Plato's dialogues reveals that he believed leisure was a central purpose for teaching the liberal arts. Schools should teach citizens not to escape leisure by choosing to work excessively and to turn instead to virtue, embodied in the state in the day?to?day practice of the liberal arts. But play was Plato's teaching method. Children learned best in playful activities that attracted their enthusiasms, that ?turned the eye of their souls? to the Good and True. Similarly, play was the best way for adults to learn and do philosophy, and it was the only way to discover new truth. Play was also central to the Socratic method. Plato discovered that the dialogue, at its highest and most serious levels, was playing for teacher and student alike. Even though the main thrust of playful teaching was to turn people toward the truth and cause them to do philosophy themselves, somewhat paradoxically Plato offered conclusions based on the realization of playing. Experiencing ?this is play,? we know more about ourselves (that ?we are toys of God"); about Being (that It is in play); about the nature of the cosmic game (it is a variant of ?hide?and?seek").

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On Plato, Leisure, Ancient Greece

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