Friendship and play: an evolutionary-developmental view

Theory & Psychology 1991 Vol. 1(1): 132-144
Friendship and play: an evolutionary-developmental view
by: Leendert P. Mos
Casey P. Boodt
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Canada

Abstract. Kazimier Dabrowski's evolutionary-developmental theory of positive disintegration is used as a pretext for discussing the relationship between play and friendship. Within the context of multilevelness of emotional and instinctive functions, it is proposed that the immutability of gamesmanship is transformed through the fidelity of friendship into play whose function is nothing less than to understand the totality of meaning.

Affect can only be overcome by a stronger affect. (Spinoza)
Essence is more important than existence for the birth of a truly human being. (Paul Cienin)

On Play
Play, as the Dutch humanist historian Johan Huizinga writes in Homo Ludens (1955/1938), plumbs the depths of consciousness and the heights of civilization. Thus, it is not only prior to society as we find it in animals and children, but it is also beyond society as it underlies all forms of culture, the arts, language, science, philosophy, commerce, law, war and religion. Without play civilization is barbaric! Play is a sacred activity revelatory of the agonistic nature of the universe and, because it is sacred, it is an irreducible concept not permitting of such oppositions as serious and comic, good and evil, truth and falsehood, and wisdom and folly, all of which characterize our individual and cultural life but which, in turn, are rooted in play. Beyond mechanism and rationality, play finds its personal and cultural significance in the notion of 'possibility' as an expression of our human imagination. It is the human imagination which makes possible the great archetypal activities of ritual, myth and language, and so transcends determinism and opens us to the world of spirit. While not necessarily beautiful or lingual, play does participate in the aesthetic, the [p. 132] poetic, in music and dance, as those enchantments of the creative imagination which never leave the play sphere. Huizinga's agonistic philosophy and his admiration of the archaic mind, the e 'children of nature', grants to play the encompassing function of redeeming a demythologized culture!
It is not our intention here to explore the intricacies of Huizinga's thesis, but to review briefly those characteristics of play which he maintains set it apart from daily living.

First, play is a voluntary activity which is compelled neither of natural necessity nor moral duty; it is never a task. Play is superfluous and can be suspended at any time. It is only when play comes to have a recognized cultural function that it is bound up with obligation and duty. Play is freedom! The urgency of play is only in the enjoyment that it brings and it is the sheer joy of play that constitutes its freedom.
Second, play is disinterested, it is an interlude, an intermezzo in our daily living. To play is to be in a temporary sphere with a disposition all its own. And while play is only pretension, this does not absolve it from proceeding with utter seriousness, with total absorption, and with a devotion that passes into rapture and ecstasy. Indeed, the inferiority of play to daily living is continually being offset by the superiority of its seriousness. Play turns seriousness into serious play. Therefore, the disinterestedness of play does not place it outside life. Rather, play adorns life, amplifies it, and is to that extent a necessity for both the individual- as a life function-and for society by reason of the meaning it contains, its significance, its expressive value, its spiritual and social associations, in short as a cultural function. Nor does the fact that play is a necessity, that it subserves culture and, indeed, actually becomes culture, detract from its disinterested character. For the purposes that play serves are external to the immediate needs of nutrition, reproduction and self-preservation. Play serves to promote community (Gemeinschaftsgefahl), which is not reducible to the necessities of survival.

The third characteristic of play is its secludedness, its limitedness, the fact that it expresses itself only within well-defined boundaries of space and time. Its course and meaning are self-contained; play begins, and then at a certain moment it is over. 'While it is in progress all is movement, change, alternation, succession, association, and separation' (Huizinga, 1955/1938, p. 9). And when it is over, it is over only to be repeated, time and again and, hence, play assumes fixed forms as a cultural phenomenon. Moreover, all play occurs within playgrounds, materially or ideally marked off beforehand. All these are temporary worlds, within everyday worlds, dedicated to play. Inside these playgrounds, play demands order, absolute and supreme; play creates order or rather it is order. The affinity between play and order is perhaps the reason why play has so often been coupled with beauty, with the aesthetic. For when we attempt to describe beauty- [p. 133] 'tension, poise, balance, contrast, variation, solution, resolution'(Huizinga, 1955/1938, p. 10)-we describe the enchanting and captivating power of play. Those who do not adhere to the order of play are spoilsports and rob play of its illusion. Spoilsports shatter the playworld, they reveal the relativity and fragility of the play community. They are apostates who break the phratria of players.

This is the fourth characteristic of play, namely play fosters the feeling of being apart-together 'in an exceptional situation. Players share something important. They communally withdraw from their daily life and reject its customary norms only to achieve a magic that lasts beyond the duration of the individual game. Play is possible only in community; indeed, play serves community, or Gemeinshaftsgefuhl. This exceptional characteristic of play is best exemplified by the charm of secrecy that surrounds play. Players are no longer concerned with the customs of ordinary life. In play, ordinary life is temporarily suspended because of the sacred and the extraordinary nature of play wherein any player can become another. In summary, Huizinga writes that play is a
. . . free activity standing quite consciously outside ordinary life as being not serious, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained from it. It proceeds within its own boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their differences from the common world by disguise or other means. (Huizinga, 1955/1938, p. 13)

Huizinga's conception of play as revelatory of original human nature, which is witness to the agonistic core of all human endeavors including the perpetual ambiguity of every expression, remains equivocal on the following fundamental question. How is culture to remain in touch with the aboriginal playsphere and neither eliminate the difference between play and non-play ('demythologized culture'), nor undo the differentiation of play as exemplified in the highest achievements of human culture? What Huizinga's thesis lacks are criteria of play that can testify to its humanizing function. His attempt to introduce such a criterion in the final paragraph of his book appears almost gratuitous: 'Moral awareness, conscience . . . springing as it does from the belief in justice and divine grace . . . will always whelm the question that eludes and deludes us to the end, in a lasting silence' (Huizinga, 1955/1938, p. 213). As criterial of moral good, the introduction of 'conscience' merely serves to obscure his failure to understand play in terms of a psychological anthropology-a theory of human development, of human growth.

Nor is it the case that such psychological theories of play were unavailable to Huizinga; rather, he rejected them. For example, the [p. 134] comparative psychologist Karl Groos, in his two volumes The play of animals (1898/1896) and The play of man (1901/1899), proposes an evolutionary-instrumentalist theory of play, which also finds its roots, like Huizinga's thesis, in the aesthetic tradition, especially in the idealist philosopher Friedrich Schiller's Letters on the aesthetic education of man (1967/1793-1795). Play, for Schiller, was criterial of being truly human. It is only in play that the person can become whole; that we move from the sensuous, material realm through the aesthetic, to the rational and moral (Letter 20). By reason the person is enjoined to bring together rational form and material life into something beautiful, into 'living form' (Letter 15). It is only through play that we suspend the contingent of matter, and harmonize matter, in the freedom of play, with the rational, true and moral which characterizes the perfection of personality (Letter 14). While Schiller recognizes that not everyone is suited to playfully harmonize matter and form which, in any case, remains an ideal, he advises that those who are so disposed should impart to the world their creative tranquility and spirit of long patience in shaping living form (Letter 19). For they will awaken in the quiet rhythm of time, beauty and culture which is the foretaste of human perfection. Schiller's conception of play is unique for it does not belong to the material, nor is it to be subsumed under the rational; for play is what facilitates the harmonization of matter and form. It is a state of freedom during which all other human functions are kept in abeyance. But it does not nullify those functions; rather play takes up those functions in itself, it strikes a balance among them, giving rise to freedom and beauty and, hence, culture (Letter 20). However, this inflated significance of play as the reconciliation of our dual nature contains so many possibilities that it tends to obscure the distinctiveness of play. On Schiller's view, play is the entire motive for human development. Play is living form and living form is play.

Karl Groos attempted to translate Schiller's matter and form into the contemporary psychological language of evolutionary theory. What is oppressive, according to Groos, is not human nature, but our surroundings. Play, as a function of heredity, affords the physical preparation and the psychological illusion that brings about our freedom from environmental oppression. Groos distinguishes three stages in the development of play. First, sensuous play is the mere satisfaction of the instinctive impulses, the sheer power and joy in being energetically active, which is instrumental in the later coping with environmental threat. Second, the enjoyment of yielding voluntarily to intensive, but not necessarily pleasurable stimulation, is play rooted in the instinctive striving for supremacy and mastery. Third, conscious self-illusion takes appearance for reality, but where the illusion never loses its stamp of manufacture. It is this final stage of play which gives to life a sense of freedom and independence; to consciously do and leave undone what we choose in the face of oppressive reality. [p. 135]

If Huizinga takes play to be the aesthetic expression of the agonistic nature of humankind in culture, he thereby rejects Schiller's concept of play as a mediator between the two irreducible realms of human nature and a forerunner of human perfection. However, both grant to play an all-encompassing and redemptive value: Huizinga, in the cultivation of the world in history, and Schiller, in the self-perfection of the individual and thereby humankind. Karl Groos, in contrast, adheres to a monistic conception of humankind and views play as the culmination which gives rise to the joy of illusory conquest. Groos' view may also be found in Sigmund Freud (1957/1915), and Jean Piaget's (1962/1947) bio-psychological view of play as autotelic activity which expresses the predominance of assimilation within the context of the adaptive significance of intellectual growth. However, these biological-evolutionary theories of play are rejected by Huizinga and would surely have been anathema to Schiller.

Finally, Roger Caillois in Man, play and games (1958) attempted to fuse these traditions by granting to play both a psychological role in taming the instincts and a cultural role in institutionalizing those instincts in a safe and acceptable form. Play can accomplish both these roles because there are different ways of playing. From paidia, which allows for the expression of the instincts in safe surroundings, to ludus, which allows for their expression in a disciplined and conventionalized manner, play enculturates humankind and, in so doing, educates, enriches and immunizes the mind against the virulence of the instincts. Caillois' 'spirit of play' disciplines the lower instincts of agon (competition), alea (chance), mimicry (simulation) and ilinx (vertigo) which would otherwise destroy culture. Play serves to keep human affairs safe from brutality and corruption and, hence, in agreement with Schiller, Caillois grants play the task of humanizing the individual In agreement with Huizinga, Callois grants play a central role in the formation of human culture, and in agreement with Groos, Freud and Piaget, he insists that play is pure activity, freed from worldly pressure and constraint, without past or future. But Caillois rejects Groos' instrumentalist views of play as a preparation in dealing with an oppressive environment. The function of play is never to develop capacities; rather play is an end in itself. But in his attempt to give play inherent meaning, Caillois bestows on play the full task of civilizing humankind. Again, as with Schiller and Huizinga, Caillois thereby loses the distinctive character of play and points unwittingly to the necessity of understanding play within a perspective of human psychological development.

On the Development of Play
Our thesis is that Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration can provide such a perspective on play. Indeed, it is precisely within the context of multilevelness of personality growth, within Dabrowski's (1974) [p. 136] evolutionary-developmental paradigm, that the apparent immutability of gamesmanship is transformed through the fidelity of friendship into play whose function is to understand our self-hood and the totality of meaning.

It is our intent to briefly present play in terms of Dabrowski's five levels of development. Thus, play at the level of primary integration and unilevel disintegration is primarily an expression of sensual and psychomotor over excitability. It is impulsive, aggressive and, frequently, brutal in nature. Especially at the level of primary integration, play is so rudimentary, based on physical prowess and the debasement of others, that it often precludes even the participation in institutionalized sports and is almost exclusively restricted to the identification with models of power, wealth, authority, violence and criminality. The pleasure of play derives entirely from the gratification of basic drives, the exercise of physical strength, the subordination of others, the power of control, and the satisfaction of ambitions and material rewards. At unilevel disintegration, play is primarily exemplified by the participation in institutionalized games based on temperamental syntony and adherence to externally imposed rules. As a result of the ambivalences and ambitendencies, the inferiority towards others, the susceptibility to social opinion, and the partial identification with others characteristic of this level, play becomes socialized and the participation in games becomes an opportunity for the discharge of excitement in the context of inhibition enforced by the rule structure of the game. Under the influence of intellectual and imaginational over excitabilities, play may also be extended beyond the participation in institutionalized games. We may see an unselective taste for phantasy and adventure, illusion and self-delusion, and an erudition which may be extensive and even brilliant, but without evaluation or synthesis. Play in whatever form at unilevel disintegration reflects an endless fascination with possibilities, but without evaluation, reflection or ideal. It involves action in a situation which, while it may be imaginatively or intellectually elaborated, is perceptually present. At this level of development, there is no play without material objects, or there is a fusion of symbols and objects,3 and the rules of play are defined over these material objects. Play occurs primarily in a material playground! Sensory cognition and the basic drives of ambition, power, social status and personal achievement determine the participation in such institutionalized games. Perhaps, most importantly, the pleasure of play remains largely egocentric and is derived from the competitive nature of play or the identification with the productions of play. Play, at this level, remains quite distinct from personal growth. Play may be sporadic or compulsive, often exotic and frequently skillful, enormously intense and deadly serious, but always externally agonistic even if syntonically binding.

The possibility of self-directed play emerges only with multilevel disintegration and the formation of what Dabrowski terms the 'inner psychic milieu'. Only with the hierarchization of experience, the inhibiting[p. 137] and self-controlling dynamisms of the inner psychic milieu, and increasing inner conflict between 'what is' and 'what ought to be' (Dabrowski, 1964), does play begin to free itself from the strictures of biological impulses and institutional rules, or social convention, to take on entirely new forms. The participation in conventional games is not abandoned but, rather, restricted to those games where, under the influence of emotional over excitability, identification and empathy, playing takes precedence over its outcome. Consistent with the emergence of a personal hierarchy of values, play will set itself in conscious opposition to all institutional gamesmanship which does not dramatize the sensitivity to differences between what is lower and higher of the self. The agonism of play which was primarily evident in institutionalized play is transformed into a search for new forms of playing with predominantly ethical and aesthetic characteristics. While skill and performance in playing are not sacrificed, these do become less important than in gamesmanship as the participation in games itself becomes much more selective. However, the quality of play is enhanced and intensified as it is identified with the hierarchy of values that begins to shape all creativity. The joy derived from play stems directly from one's own struggles and failures to achieve victory and performance, from selecting and shaping play consistent with one's own hierarchy of values, and from maladjustment to the social reality of gamesmanship.

Play in multilevel disintegration retains its agonistic character, but the agonism is now radically transformed and no longer reflects the biological frustrations evident at primary integration or the social boundedness of unilevel disintegration. Rather, the agonism of play is now a reflection of inner conflict, the hierarchization of values, and the fluctuating and even antagonistic levels of the structure of the inner psychic milieu. Thus the agonism of play reflects an inner struggle which will always take precedence over the participation in gamesmanship. Along with the internalization of agonism comes an increasingly conscious and reflective empathy towards oneself and towards others, or what we have termed Gemeinschaftgefühl. The joy of playing comes to reflect the values of closeness, intimacy and the rudiments of the possibility of friendship. Play occurs within community.

It is difficult not to exaggerate the transformation of play as it is given form by the dynamisms of multilevel disintegration. Not only is there a withdrawal from most socially instituted forms of play, from play as games, but play becomes representational, it comes to represent the tension inherent in the forging of a hierarchy of values out of personal experience and the fear that those values may not survive. Play comes to involve action in situations, play spheres, which are no longer materially or conventionally defined, but intellectually conceived, imagined and affectively elaborated in memory. Play is guided by the meaning of the situation, where this meaning is symbolic and to be clearly distinguished from the [p. 138] field of object perception. Play serves the transition from object boundedness, the fusion of symbolic meaning and object which is characteristic of sensory cognition at unilevel disintegration, to the intuitive understanding of symbolic meaning as given in affective memory and expressive of the hierarchization of values at spontaneous multilevel disintegration. Play is directed towards an understanding of one's personal growth and the acceptance of the uniqueness of others. In whatever human endeavor, play comes to express the drama and tragedy and the suffering and joy of human existence. On the one hand, the power of fate, humiliation and absence of grace; on the other hand, the longing for ideal, inspiration and heroic struggle. Such playing is expressed in artistic endeavors, but also in science, and in political and social action. This kind of play becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish from daily living. Its 'rules' come to look much more like values, and its disinterested character reflects only a positive maladjustment to the surroundings. Moreover, the joy inherent in this kind of playing comes not from victory or competence, or even from excellence or recognition, rather it derives from the depth and quality of inner experience, the expansion of awareness and self-criticism, the discovery of the creative power of failure, humiliation, depression and sadness, and the discovery of oneself in an objective and authentic manner.

The nature of play is further modified as personal development proceeds to directed multilevel disintegration. Under the influence of conscious choice, subject-object within oneself, and inner psychic transformation, play fully transcends not only the physicality of the biological life-cycle but, also, through reflection and meditation, one's own psychological type. Play comes to express the sense of self-perfection especially in the exclusivity of relationships and in the understanding of, and care for, those who are oppressed or suffer. Through the syntheses of imaginative, intellectual and emotional over excitabilities and the dynamisms of self-control and self-awareness, one playfully affirms one's own uniqueness, without diminishing an understanding and sympathy for others who struggle to give expression to their personal development. Play is now expressed in auto-psychotherapy and education-of-oneself; it is directed towards existential, philosophical and religious meanings that begin to dominate not only one's creative endeavors but one's entire lifestyle. Play acts against impulse and external control in service of the intuitive and empathic understanding of the multidimensionality and multilevelness of reality. The agonistic elements of play that dominated spontaneous multilevel disintegration, that characterized inner conflict, are now transformed through the dynamization of the personality ideal into full empathy with others, but not with oneself, and full identification with oneself, one's ideals, but never with those of others. Playfully, meditation and contemplation are directed towards the wholeness of reality, especially as it reflects the constancy of human relationships and [p. 139] possibility of transcendence. The joy of play flows from an inner strength directly related to the global awareness of one's own development within the context of unique and exclusive relationships.

On the Development of Friendship
This rather cursory overview of play as a function of persons' developmental potential brings us to a consideration of friendship. Acquaintances are selected to amuse and benefit us, but a friend, as Soren Kierkegaard (1971/1843, p. 321ff.) so beautifully describes, is chosen. A friend is a person selected for a permanent relationship involving a mood of enduring affection, not as a matter of duty but as an inwardly accepted obligation which is free from the necessity to pretend-to play-act-as one might with an acquaintance, a colleague or a stranger. From within Dabrowski's perspective, the commitment made in friendship is made possible by the dynamisms of directed multilevel disintegration as these engender a hierarchization of values as the beginning of the personality ideal. Commitment in friendship is rooted in a sustained mood of emotional over excitability which involves an enduring attitude of affection and responsibility. Such a sustaining mood implies a sense of continuous 'presence', or what Gabriel Marcel (1964, pp. 153-155) has called 'fidelity', of one who does not fail. This notion of fidelity which comes to guide the subsequent play between friends reflects not only the constancy of self, of identification with the essence of one's development, but also a presence for the other, through empathy, for 'thou'.

We must take care to distinguish between the value of constancy in friendship, which is the highest achievement made possible by the emergence of Gemeinschaftsgefahl, and reflects the dynamism of self-perfection, and fidelity, which is a reflection of the personality ideal. It is the personality ideal, shaped through the dynamisms of autonomy and authenticity on the border of directed multilevel disintegration and secondary integration, which recognizes the unrepeatable and experientially unique qualities in the other and the qualities of common essence in the friendship. To be present for the other, to experience presence in friendship, is to recognize essence as more fundamental than existence. It is to assume responsibility for the other as for oneself; it is to be present for
the other in the harmonic duality of existence and essence and, as Dabrowski (1974) writes, in the 'full harmony of perfecting self and other' (p. 65).

As compared with marriage and the bonds of family, friendship has no generally recognized rights and is, therefore, wholly dependent on its own inherent quality. It is by no means easy to understand the nature of friendship and it is in this sense similar to play. Dietrich Bonhoeffer [p. 140] (1964/1949, pp. 28-287) suggests that friendship is a heading under culture and education, just as brotherhood or sisterhood is in the church, or comradeship is a heading under labour or politics. But while marriage, labour, the state and the church all exist by virtue of some authority, what of culture and education? The latter belong not to the spheres of office, authority or obedience, but rather to the sphere of freedom. A person ignorant of this sphere of freedom may be, as Bonhoeffer suggests, a good spouse, citizen, worker and, perhaps, even a religious person, but hardly a complete person. Such a person remains caught in the grip of moralism or, if you like, the biological and social realities of gamesmanship, which precludes play and, hence, friendship. As we have suggested, the possibility of play emerges under the influence of imaginative and intellectual over excitabilities and the dynamisms of spontaneous multilevel disintegration. Play is here directed towards the hierarchization of values and the constancy of relationships as expressed in all our endeavors. With the synthesis of intellectual, imaginative and, especially, emotional over excitability, and the dynamisms of directed multilevel disintegration, in particular identification with oneself and self-perfection, comes the exclusivity and indissolubility of relationships characteristic of friendship.

The Play of Friends
But what of play in friendship? We have tried to show that the full development of the inner psychic milieu occurs on the basis of the dynamic forces that make possible both play and friendship. It is our claim that it is the play of friends that leads to the full elaboration of personality. Whereas Dabrowski focused his efforts on describing the individual, psychological forces in development, it is fully consistent with his view that such individual development can culminate in the achievement of personality only through the play of friendship. Not only in solitude and contemplation, but through continuous dialogue and unbending responsibility do friends learn about their individual and common essences. Only in play among friends do we find the enthusiasm and passion to explore transcendental values, to harmonize contemplation and action, and, through retrospection and prospection, to relentlessly search the coherence and objectivity of all knowledge and understanding. In friendship, play is everything; it leads all our life activities. Gone here, in play among friends, is the opposition between life and reason, form and matter, intellect and emotion, and imagination and reality. The personality ideal knows no such oppositions. Or, rather, in being faithful to another, friendship makes possible the kind of play that endlessly seeks to bridge such oppositions, to understand the tensions inherent in our articulations and expressions of the multilevelness and multidimensionality of reality. [p. 141]

The history of human intellectual activity in its broadest sense has been the attempt to grasp the totality of meaning. However, whether philosophical, religious, theoretical or artistic, such attempts have frequently been tyrannically one-sided and presumed to be self-sufficient in finding a point of departure in one particular function of consciousness or, indeed, outside of human consciousness. Repeatedly do we find elaborate proposals to reify meaning, to mechanize methods of inquiry, to legislate production and social action, and to demythologize myth, ritual, liturgy and performance so as to guarantee objectivity, validity and, hence, justify action. We live in an age where our ignorance only gives rise to problems and our knowledge only to solutions; an age that prides itself on specialization; an age that has fragmented the understanding of our cosmos. It is not that our contemporary achievements in science, engineering, art, literature, philosophy and education are not technological feats or intellectually demanding, but it is rather that these lack any inner point of concentration, any radical unity of the self within community. Nor could they, for the full diversity of meaning, the coherence of all aspects of reality, can find expression only in the fidelity of play. Only when we are present to one another in our individual and common essence, under the dynamization of the personality ideal, can we be free to understand playfully, to adorn, to suffer, to be enchanted, and to enthusiastically embrace those mysteries that lie beyond our individual grasp.

We readily admit that this is not an easy or popular viewpoint. It smacks of subjectivism, romanticism and even mysticism. We pride ourselves on hard intellectual work, not the esoterics of creativity; on sensory and rational knowledge, not values; on logic and mechanism, not intuition and aesthetics. Our modern institutions of higher learning pride themselves as being factories producing knowledge and art, where its workers are prototypically individualists contributing to the collective good of which they are individually blind. In business and industry we strive only to produce efficiently, effectively and profitably. We produce only to enhance consumption. Our healers, care-givers and pastors incite only to happiness, the values of productivity and consumption, in short, to optimal adjustment. Our school teachers when they do train for values adhere to an utter relativism of personal growth; an ideology that cannot arbitrate between the individual and the collective. We train for excellence in order to push back the frontiers of ignorance, to allow for self-expression, to bring health, productivity and happiness, but, the words of Mircea Eliade (1959), our efforts are utterly profane, entirely horizontal. It is a massive cultural effort that rejects the past as error, masters the present by sheer force of number, and engages in a futurology that knows neither fidelity nor prophecy. The psychopathy of everyday life that characterizes Western culture is essentially antagonistic to friendship and friends that play.

Johann Huizinga was deeply discouraged by the absence of play in contemporary culture. Indeed, the relegation of play to childhood and [p. 142] games in opposition to the seriousness of everyday life is but one indication of our profanity. Another is that we have become deeply suspicious and even cynical about the possibility of friendship, for we have no conception of its order: of presence and of fidelity. Dabrowski, too, was deeply pessimistic; but never deluded. In person, and in his writings, his understanding reflects a playfulness whose only order is fidelity and whose joy is a certitude in the objectivity of value that comes from development, 'from conscious transformation, from one's own experiences, from the independent and unrepeatable "I" and perhaps . . . perhaps from slight contact with the transcendental level' (Cienin, 1972, p. 50).

But just what do friends do when they play? They learn to live the truth. They learn to express that truth in all their endeavors. Quite apart from the veracity of its content, truthful expression is never constant; rather, it is as much alive as life itself. It lives in an ever-expanding cosmos whose order is playfully articulated and lived in the context of the other. Here, indeed, truth, beauty and the good are closely interwoven in a fabric of personal and cultural development. To playfully strive for such understanding is the aesthetic expression of redemption. It is the aim of such striving to redeem individuals and culture from the grasp of the profane; to hold out hope and love to a broken world. Such understanding invites us to transcend gamesmanship and reach for the play of friendship.

1. A version of an invited paper presented at the Polish Academy of Science, Polish Society for Mental Health, Fourth AnnualConference on the Theory of Positive Disintegration, 19-21 June 1987, Jablonka, Poland. The authors gratefully acknowledge theUniversity of Alberta Research Fund and the Province of Alberta for a STEP grant in support of this research.
2. Dabrowski deems the non-ontogentic and, hence, evolutionary, achievement of personality to develop through fivedistinguishable levels: primary integration, unilevel disintegration, spontaneous multilevel disintegration, directed multileveldisintegration, and secondary integration. Under the influence of sensual, psychomotor, imaginational, intellectual andemotional over excitability, as well as the dynamisms of the inner psychic milieu, the transformation of individuality topersonality requires the dissolution, hence 'disintegration', of lower levels, which are relatively simple, automatic andunconscious, in order to attain the higher levels which are complex, voluntary and conscious. The interested reader is referred toDabrowski's English language publications (Dabrowski, 1967, 1970; Dabrowski, Kawcazk, & Piechowski, 1970; Dabrowski &Piechowski, 1977).
3. Vygotsky attributed the fusion of symbol and object to the pre-school child (Vygotsky, 1987). However, on Dabrowski's accountthis fusion is also characteristic of primary integration and, perhaps, even unilevel disintegration; that is, characteristic of thoseindividuality structures prior to the formation of the structures of the inner psychic milieu that is personality proper. [p. 143]
4. Multilevel disintegration refers to two distinct levels of personality development: spontaneous multilevel and directed multileveldisintegration. These are distinguished primarily in terms of the emerging strength of the dynamisms of the inner psychic milieu,the reduction of inner conflict and an adherence to the personality ideal.

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LEENDERT P. Mos is Director of the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Psychology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E5. He is the editor of the Annals of Theoretical Psychology.
CASEY P. BOODT is a graduate student in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E5
Theory & Psychology 1991 Vol. 1(1): 132-144