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Masking the Abject: A Genealogy of Play Textbook Binding – May 15, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


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)

About the Author

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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