The Philosophy of Fun

Why is it in modern times, to have “fun” is seen as bad and indecent? Perhaps it is a result of industrialization, the Protestant work ethic, and the thought:

Whenever you are *not* working and being “productive”, you’re actively sinning.

But has there been any philosophers or thinkers who have seriously thought about fun … as a good and productive thing?

What is “fun” anyways?

Children intuitively only do what is fun and interesting to them. All children refuse to be bored or to do boring things. Only through punishment and cruel adult measures do children learn to be okay being “bored”, to sit and pay attention in class, etc.

Why is it seen as unacceptable for adults to have fun?

Do you remember the last time you had “fun” without having the need to justify it? Or having fun without the need for alcohol, drugs or other substances? To be lost in a creative bliss of creating and having fun *without* just being passively entertained by external media?

Fun is embodied challenge

Fun is the optimal state. In some ways, the “flow” state that Mihalay C talks about is the same as fun.

To be “entertained” is different than having fun. Fun is active, creative… you’re doing something. To be entertained is to be trapped (en+tenare— to have your attention trapped and held). Entertainment is passive. And to be passive is bad. To be active is good.

Why is passive bad?

Passive comes from the Latin “pati” (to suffer). Passivus— similar to the word “pathetikos” in Greek (pathetic).

If you’re passive, suffering and emotion is done unto you. And who wants to be pathetic?

Why play?

I believe great innovation and great human flourishing and joy is produced through play.

For example the best photos are produced in a spirit of play. This is why I love the work of Robert Capa — he shot like a grown child, even in the dangerous war zones. Even the best photos of Henri Cartier Bresson are the photos which are more fun and playful — not his “serious” photos and portraits.

Morale of the story:

Optimize your life for maximal fun!

In photography, don’t strive for the “best” camera, seek the most *fun* camera to shoot with. Don’t aim to have the “best” car, but the most fun to drive. Not the “best” life, but the most fun life.



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