I’ve philosophized our passion for table tennis by bringing into the equation Plato and Aristotle, metaphysics and empiricism, and various strains of the Perennial Philosophy; I’ve also psychologized it, resorting to Jung’s concept of one’s shadow. And while all of the above does stand, it’s also true that some players aren’t motivated, however unwittingly, by their shadow, nor are they consciously engaging in a metaphysical exploration or an initiatic voyage. Rather, they are drawn to the sport by an urge to play that is as irresistible as it is seemingly inexplicable.
We humans have been optimistically classified as Homo sapiens, “knowing man.” Judging from the history of our proud species, one would think that Homo in-sapiens might be more fitting, “unknowing man.” But the establishment, with the cultural canon it implements, works ever so assiduously at persuading us that evolution has been a great success, while the honest ones among us may suspect otherwise. Therefore, one wonders if the official name that science has assigned to us - or the unofficial one, its opposite - should not be exchanged for something more descriptive and encouraging: Homo ludens, i.e., “playing man.”