Chapter 8 The Toy Classification

Like many others, the Estonian literary researcher Jurie M. Lotman regards literary fiction as a “model” for human existence or as a section of it. It is, however, obvious that, whatever way it unfolds in a given period, no individual text can function as a model for other typical incidences and relationships in human existence.

“A model is an analogy for the object we seek to learn something about, an analogy which replaces the object during the learning process,” says Lotman (1971:281).

The model concept in this general form covers a long list of concrete phenomena including toys, architect’s drawings, maps, language and speech which communicate knowledge about human existence and the phenomena and objects of our being. The principal sources of knowledge about our world will always be people’s actions, reactions, our own experience and what others tell us about their experiences -  and fiction. Other sources include communication of news, information and debate. When we mention communication of knowledge about human existence, there is to a great extent a presentation of emotions, affects, norms and values, passions and the use of force.

All these phenomena are also included in the phenomenon “toys and play”. The relationship between toys and play can be compared to double entry book-keeping - and the relationship is a combination of the material and the spiritual/intellectual. However, since we must get the books to balance, we need to register and establish order in the form of key classification models.

Classification must follow specific guidelines for how a model should be constructed. It must have specific “junctions”, which can roughly be compared to branches on a tree.

For each classification model, we must ask ourselves the question, “What will or must we focus on: individual components? relationships? the individual toy? or the relations between individual toys or between groups of toys?”

The majority of definitions of toys are viewed in connection with one or more general definitions of play.

The toy is therefore often accorded very different significance and value, dependent upon how the definitions of play and play activity are formulated.

It can be difficult to gain a general outlook on a toy classification if the toy is subject to other general theories than the toy’s existing one. The other theories have often nothing at all to do with toys.

In toy classification it is understood that the toys are distributed over a given number of parallel or subordinate subgroups and that the presentation of the classification is undertaken within a fixed pattern to ensure that a comprehensive view is maintained.

If any classification is to be understood, then the model must be simple.



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