Play and its role in learning
I have been watching a BBC TV documentary about the role of Play on animal learning (especially in the young). The general conclusion was that Play was more important than it is usually given credit for.
But, any analysis of such things must start from a sound basis - one which must necessarily address a great deal more than the accumulation of just everyday knowledge and skills.
Indeed, to really get at the processes involved, it cannot be purely an aggregating mechanism, but also, in some way, informatively address unavoidable crises, and even the Emergences of the Wholly New.
Now, useful contributions can be made without such a stance, but it will never address the significant Qualitative Changes that are the essential ingredients in real Development - or The Evolution of Undertsanding, rather then the aggregation of Knowledge only.
So, though many of the points made were of some value, they could not address the more important questions.
Let us look once again at the Play of young animals in their early years, but let us consider it in terms of the diverse capabilities endowed to the animal in question by its Quantitaive Evolution!
For embedded in the baby animal, from birth, is a complex system of bones and muscles capable of a significant number of movements and abilities passed on to it by it Evolution over, perhaps, millions of years. The potential for what that animal could do, is already built into its form, and certainly NOT due to its actions and experience.
So, what is the primary role of Play?
It is to reveal to the individual the built-in potential of its inherited form, but as a form of pleasure and fun, rather than mere functional exercise - to encourage them to do it all the time. Part of that inheritance will be the endorphins and pleasurable emanations also released by such new movements.
It is a process of already available discoveries of the young animal's built-on potential, BUT, it is not how they discover the wholly New.
And it is not how Evolution takes place!
In the most advanced animals, like us, it is NOT how they qualitatively change their understanding of things! That is a very different process which has been termed Emergence, and must never be confused with the incremental accumulation of Knowledge, which ultimately just recreates what is already knowable.
Indeed a valid alternative word for what an Emergence reveals is that it delivers a Revolution: and such can be both in their Living Processes and in their Thinking. But in the latter it is NOT merely New Knowledge!
And, it is never merely an addition in either sphere: it is always cataclysmic and destructive. For it to occur, elements of what went before, first get challenged, in a series of usually overcome Crises, but ultimately do deliver the Emergence, where these have to finally cause an overall Collapse of the Old System, in what seems to be a debilitating Dissociation, but in so-doing it also dismantles the self-maintaining features of the past stability, and thereby enables a natural construction of a wholly New System.
This is always totally unpredictable from the prior seemingly permanent Stability.
And, if you dont believe it.....What was the Origin of Life, and the much latter Appearence of Consciousness? What was the Neolithic Revolution, when Mankind, after hundreds of thousands of years, switched from being Hunter/Gatherers to Farmers and Domesticators of Food Animals?
Also what were the English, American, French and Russian Social Revolutoons?
And why is all of this not a part of the Thinking of Mankind?
It is due to one of these Revolutions that took place 2,500 years ago in Ancient Greece - The First Intellectual Revolution, where the breakthrough was to assume the fixety of all fundamental categories, Names and even Concepts, by the universal adoption of The Principle of Plurality. For this excluded Qualitative Changes from Mathematics, Reasoning and even Science, where it still rules to this day!
The interesting thing about Play is that it limits what has to be passed in via genetic Materials, for in many animals and all plants literally everything that is needed is passed on in genetic material, but when Play is passed on, it both reveals the potentiality of bodily capabilities and also teaches the young animal how to use them in different ways - its more flexible.
There is NO training in flying insects how to fly, it is genetically transmitted: but in Humans Beings and many higher animals the transmission of playing, and parental care is far more efficient, if longer to acquire. Needless to sat Humans have an exceedingly long Childhood, while certain seabirds, for example, "fly" and swim straight from the nest, and are effectively "on their own" within weeks!
Evolution has equipped the higher animals in very different ways via actual Emergences, though they have never been clearly evident until Darwin and Wallace's revelation of Natural Selection, though even they didn't fully understand exactly how these radical developments occurred - they just discovered that they had happened.
The philosophical Revolution that began to tackle Qualitative Change did in fact begin seriously in the early 19th century, via the criticisms of Formal Logic by the German Idealist Philosopher Hegel, but he only applied his Dialectics to Human Thinking, and the task of applying it effectively across the board, and particularly in Science has only begun to make inroads there in the 21st century, with the recent successful attack upon the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory.
Now, there is still an enormous amount yet to be addressed, but Qualitative Change occurs in literally Everything so the current domination of Plurality in most Intellectual Disciplines, has still got a long way to go. Apart from the recent application to Sub Atomic Physics, the only extensive and indeed, at the time comprehensive prior definition and application to concrete Reality was undertaken in the Study of Capitalist Economics by Karl Marx in the 19th century, but both denounced and suppressed by an academia dominated by the pro Capitalist Ruling Class across the World, clearly because Marx's conclusion was the necessity for a Socialist Revolution...