Interpretive play

Weinsheimer explains how Gadamer can think of interpretation as “play” while avoiding the bogeyman of an interpretive “free-for-all”: “In playing, we do not stand over against the game; we particular in it. A player who does not get fully involved in the game is called a spoilsport, because toying with or playing at a game spoils it.” In short, games are not “objects” over there that we examine from a safe distance: “taking a game seriously entails belonging to it, and this belonging in turn precludes treating the game as an object.”

Neither is the game simply a subjectivist utopia: “in the same process of playing that prevents objectifying the game, players lose their status as subjects. As part of the game, participants play parts that are not merely themselves insofar as they have been assigned roles to perform. Playing consists in a perfromance of what is no object, by what is no subject.”

If interpretation is play, “then it always involves something like performing a drama, for the player who takes the play seriously interprets it from within, by belonging to and playing a part in it.”

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