Philosophy ETDs

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My dissertation looks at how four figures in the German philosophical tradition employ a similar concept of play in their models of the Ich', often translated as 'Self', as they explore the complexities of establishing a unity within embodied consciousness. These four figures are: Friedrich Schiller, F.W.J. Schelling, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud. I situate this concept of play within the contemporary debate of the interdisciplinary field of play studies, showing that what emerges is a theory of play that avoids marginalizing it to children and leisure, but rather recognizes it as a state of consciousness that provides a semblance of self and a meaningful engagement with the world. However, these models of self that emerge provide an alternate conception compared to the mainstream versions that put emphasis on autonomy and self-transparency. Instead, these four figures acknowledge that consciousness is embedded in the world, thus it must consider its local relationships to its physical and social environment, as well as the embodied unconscious that it emerges from. As I progress through the four chapters, it will become apparent how these revised understandings of the self have a significant impact in how we approach areas like moral philosophy, political philosophy, critical theory, philosophy of biology, cognitive science, philosophical anthropology, and philosophy of art. Specifically we will see in what important ways consciousness is decentred in these accounts, thus in turn denying any particular consciousness a transcendental view that can finally settle fundamental philosophical, political and cultural issues.

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Level of Degree


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First Committee Member (Chair)

Thomson, Iain

Second Committee Member

Kalar, Brent

Third Committee Member

Bristow, William




Friedrich Schiller, F.W.J. Schelling, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalysis, Play Theory, Play, Self, German Idealism, Unconscious, Embodied Consciousness, Aesthetic Education, Philosophy of Art

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Philosophy Commons