graeber on play

David Graeber

Why do animals play? Well, why shouldn’t they? The real question is: Why does the existence of action carried out for the sheer pleasure of acting, the exertion of powers for the sheer pleasure of exerting them, strike us as mysterious? What does it tell us about ourselves that we instinctively assume that it is? (Graeber 2014)

GRAEBER, DAVID [ROLFE]. 2014. What’s the point if we can’t have fun? The Baffler 24. Available online.
via email from Flo—tnx!
  • Flo Wednesday, 25th June 2014 at 19:04

    Just realized that parts of it read like Huizinga’s ‘Homo Ludens’ and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. But for me, the most interesting part was this:

    ‘If old-school Social Darwinists like Herbert Spencer viewed nature as a marketplace, albeit an unusually cutthroat one, the new version was outright capitalist. The neo-Darwinists assumed not just a struggle for survival, but a universe of rational calculation driven by an apparently irrational imperative to unlimited growth.’

    That’s a really nice example of how a sociocultural framework gets imprinted in scientific interpretations… but if this questionable interpretations become themselves a framework for evolutionary psychologists, we start to explain, or even justify, our behavior with our behavior. And rather worryingly, it’s the ‘capitalist/rationalist’ version of evolution that’s being taught in schools.