The Rhetoric of Toys

  • David W. Black
Part of the Child Nurturance book series (CHILDNUR, volume 1)


Are there bounds and borders to the world of play? If so, how are these borders defined? And what, if anything, might be learned through play? These questions suggest that play exhibits an autonomy that is in some measure describable or distinct. But what is at issue in a description of play? Is it enough to simply point to this and that experience, claiming that the one is play and the other is not? Or, must one ask: How does play come into being? How is it possible that we recognize an act of play?


Happy Face Rhetorical Schema Explicit Reason Perceptual World Intense Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Collingwood, R. G. Speculum mentis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924.Google Scholar
  2. Huizinga, J. Homo ludens: A study of the play elements in culture. Boston: Beacon Press, 1955.Google Scholar
  3. Langer, S. Philosophy in a new key. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1942.Google Scholar
  4. Merleau-Ponty, M. The child’s relation with others. (William Cobb, Trans.) In J. Edie (Ed.), The primacy of perception. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1964.Google Scholar
  5. Piaget, J. The construction of reality in the child. New York: Ballantine Books, 1954.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Piaget, J. The child’s conception of the world. Totawa, NJ: Littlefield Adams, 1960.Google Scholar


  1. 1) Piaget continues: “Proof that this interpretation is the right one, however painful it may be to our realism, is that the child makes no attempt to search for an object when it is neither within an extension of the gesture made, nor in its initial position; here obs. 28–33 are decisive.”Google Scholar
  2. (2).
    The toy has become increasingly complicated in design. Rules and regulations accompany each item. Today the child is not only provided with a toy, but is also given instructions for its use. Certain computerized toys actually “reward” the child by playing a delightful tune when the proper manipulations have been completed. The computer robot is programmed play, technical play, dead serious play. Far from centering around the ridiculous gesture, technical play actually condemns the absurd or nonconforming act.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • David W. Black
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations