1. Aesthetic Education and the Roots of Poetic Education
2. Poetry as Teacher of Humanity
3. Play, Paidia, and Paideia
4. Becoming Who We Are: A ConversationConclusion: The Play of the In-Between
“Interpretation, play, and creativity are not simply behaviors,” Homan (philosophy, Mount Mary Univ.) argues in this perceptive and trenchant new book, “but ways of being in the world” (p. 134). Tracing, engaging, and building on this ontological orientation in the works of many key German language poets and philosophers—including Hölderlin, Kant, Schiller, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Celan, Fink, Gadamer, and others—the author identifies a pervasive “as if” stance that marks many of their perspectives on language, education, and existence. Human existence is groundless yet finite and thus tragic. And language (while not merely a tool) is capable of enlarging understanding even though it always remains incomplete. The poetic, however, keeps these tensions alive and therefore offers the true promise of a liberatory and playful education. Homan underscores the seriousness of play as it provides the bridge that enables one to reclaim an original unity obscured by ubiquitous dualisms (e.g., subject/object, self/world, familiar/foreign, and so on). A concluding chapter responds to some critiques of hermeneutics and offers a justification of education as Bildung, which Homan regards as consistent with hermeneutics in that it is premised on “the spontaneity and openness to what is other" (p. 166). This is exemplary and astute scholarship with a timely and timeless focus. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.