Masking the Abject

Masking the Abject : A Genealogy of Play

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Masking the Abject traces the beginnings of the malediction of play in Western metaphysics to Aristotle. Mechthild Nagel's innovative study demonstrates how play has served as a "castaway" in western philosophical thinking: It is considered to be repulsive and loathsome, yet also fascinating and desirable. The book illustrates how play "succeeds" and proliferates after Hegel-despite its denunciation by classical philosophers-entering Marxist, phenomenological, postmodern, and feminist discourses. This work provides the reader with a superb analyisis of how the distinction between the serious and the playful has developed over time, charting play's changing ontological status, and ethical and aesthetic dimensions, from the logocentric to the bacchnalian.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 140 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.1 x 12.7mm | 181.44g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739103083
  • 9780739103081

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Tragic Play in the Presocratic World Chapter 2 Plato's Play: The Demise of the Dionysian Chapter 3 Aristotle's Malediction of Play Chapter 4 Play of the Enlightenment: Kant and Schiller Chapter 5 Play and Cunning in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
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Review quote

Mechthild Nagel's Masking the Abject is a fascinating study of the concept of play in Homer, Hesiod, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel. Nagel emancipates European thinkers from the spirit of gravity that weighs down traditional interpretations, and teases out the humor, irony, and wit that play below the surface of these profound texts. -- Cynthia Willett, Professor of Philosophy, Emory University In the tradition of Schiller and Nietzsche, Nagel believes that play is far more essential to the human condition than it is usually taken to be. Beyond Weber's claim that Protestantism is responsible for the modern work ethic, Nagel traces the history of the subordination of play to work from antiquity to modernity, directing our attention to the ways in which play begins to assume a more prominent position in the German idealist tradition. As much a reflection on the nature of the philosophical enterprise as it is an analysis of how philosophers have conceptualized play, Nagel's book is both "serious" and, yes, fun to read. -- Andrew Cutrofello, Loyola University, Chicago Not only is philosophy to be done in a serious manner, but it must above all be dedicated to serious topics. This is why Mechthild Nagel's recent book Masking the Abject: A Genealogy of Play has to be greeted as a needed contribution and as coming at the right moment. Philosophy in Review Deadly serious readers of Mecke Nagel's sparkling new book can be confident they'll be exploring quite profound questions about the nature of philosophy and (yes) the meaning of life. More playful readers can look forward to learning how even terminally serious philosophers recognize the need to reflect on playfulness. Brava, Prof. Nagel! -- Elizabeth V. Spelman, Smith College
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About Mechthild Nagel

Mechthild Nagel is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Courtland. She is coeditor of Race, Class, and Community Value (2000).
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