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Philosophy of Play


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including History of Modern Philosophy, Cultuurfilosofie, Continentale filosofie, Philosophy of Mind.

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Philosophy of Culture, Concepts of Selfhood, and at least one of the courses World Philosophies: China, World Philosophies: India, World Philosophies: Africa, World Philosophies: Middle East.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package A.


The course investigates the issues arising from a philosophical analysis of the experience of engaging in play with a special concern for the implications of human play for worldview-creation. It covers much of the standard philosophical literature on play, including Heraclitus, Kant and Schiller, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Huizinga, Gadamer, Winnicott etc. Key topics include rule-following, mutual understanding, play and seriousness and make-believe and modal ontology.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide the students with a detailed view of:

  • the history of the concept of ‘play’ in Western philosophy;

  • the current state of the debate around ‘play’;

  • the implications of the experience of play for epistemology, ethics, aesthetics and ontology.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the history of the debates surrounding play (including cognitive and non-cognitive approaches, psychological, phenomenological and ontological approaches;

  • the metaphysical importance of play;

  • the relations between the philosophical and psychological views of play.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand, comment and interconnect specialized texts and theories relative to play;

  • critically engage with some of the latest secondary literature on play;

  • present a consistent and comprehensive view of the current problems of the field and explore possible avenues of research.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Oral or written presentation on a primary text and abstract (30%)

  • Final paper on a question chosen from a list of five (70%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (see above).


The resit will consists of one examination for all parts at once and the mark will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests. The resit will be a thoroughly demanding survey take-home exam covering the entirety of the course materials, and including a text commentary, a series of short questions and an argumentative essay. There may be an added short oral examination.

Students will only be eligible for the resit if they have submitted/presented all other practical assignments the term. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The texts and reading schedule will be provided on Brightspace before the start of term.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.