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This thesis is an examination of kinaesthetic play from the lived experience of the player. The aim of this work is to show that the value of play runs much deeper than its applications and that play should be understood in itself, and not as an outcome or part of a game or sport. Play, as investigated in this study, calls into question certain philosophical themes, most specifically the concept of self as discovered ‘within’ the horizon of a historically conditioned world. The level of embodied engagement in play collapses the dichotomies of subject and object, and indeed the self and world. In committing oneself to play one actively joins play and in doing so the player experiences a unity, a unique oneness that grounds and determines the felt experience of play. This significant experience is described in this thesis as ‘selfless play.’ It happens when the players are no longer concerned for themselves and their own individual goals. The totality of the situation leads to an autotelic experience brought on by a mixture of challenge and focus, regardless of the form of the game or activity. There is no self-reflection in selfless play; when we think or examine the way we are playing we are no longer in play. The constitutional horizon of ‘being-in-the-world’, which is so important to everyday life, is not fundamental to play. The only fundamental horizon in play is play itself. In abandoning the horizon of being-in-the-world, play necessarily leads to the renunciation of other important concepts like selfhood, authenticity and freedom. While all these categories are necessary to enter into selfless play, once in it we forfeit our agency and command in order to embrace an exceptional lived experience. In play, meaning is not measured by rational understanding but by the intensity of existence. In play everything is ubiquitous; all things are one under the constitution of play.
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