All humans laugh. However, there is little agreement about what is appropriate to laugh at. While laughter can unite people by showing how they share values and perspectives, it also has the power to separate and divide. Humor that "crosses the line" can make people feel excluded and humiliated. This collection of new essays addresses possible ways that moral and ethical lines can be drawn around humor and laughter. What would a Kantian approach to humor look like? Do games create a safe space for profanity and offense? Contributors to this volume work to establish and explain guidelines for thinking about the moral questions that arise when humor and laughter intersect with medicine, gender, race, and politics. Drawing from the work of stand-up comedians, television shows, and ethicists, this volume asserts that we are never just joking.
This wide-ranging collection, consisting of 50 essays by leading international scholars in a variety of fields, provides an overview of the reception history of a major literary genre from Greco-Roman antiquity to the present day. Section I considers how the 5th- and 4th-century Athenian comic poets defined themselves and their plays, especially in relation to other major literary forms. It then moves on to the Roman world and to the reception of Greek comedy there in art and literature. Section II deals with the European reception of Greek and Roman comedy in the Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern periods, and with the European stage tradition of comic theater more generally. Section III treats the handling of Greco-Roman comedy in the modern world, with attention not just to literary translations and stage-productions, but to more modern media such as radio and film. The collection will be of interest to students of ancient comedy as well as toall those concerned with how literary and theatrical traditions are passed on from one time and place to another, and adapted to meet local conditions and concerns.
To understand comedy is to understand humanity, for the comic sense is central to what it means to be human. Nearly all the major issues with which human beings have exercised themselves are touched upon in some manner by the comic spirit. Yet education in the art of comedy and in comic appreciation is given little attention in most societies. The Spirituality of Comedy explores the wisdom of comedy and the comic answer to tragedy (in both popular and classical senses of the term). Tragedy is seen as a fundamental problem of human existence, while comedy is its counterweight and resolution. Conrad Hyers has taken a fresh look at comedy from the standpoint of comparative mythology and religion, and thus comedy's spiritual significance. In his unique study of the comic tradition, Hyers explains the difficulty in pinning down themes, structures, plots, or characters that are common to all comedy. Instead he argues that there is an essence of comedy in the area of pattern. He draws upon the rich historical ensemble of types of comic figures: the humorist, comedian, comic hero, rogue, trickster, clown, fool, underdog, and simpleton. He shows how each type incarnates a comic heroism in its own unique manner, offering a profound wisdom and philosophy of life. The approach of this book is broadly interdisciplinary, with materials and interpretations introduced from the various fields of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences as they illuminate both the tragic and comic sensibilities. The methodological thread that draws this all together is an analysis of the major types of comic figures in terms of the myths and legends associated with them, the rituals they produce and enact, and the symbolism of the comic figures themselves. Written in a very readable literary style, The Spirituality of Comedy will appeal to psychologists, social scientists, clergy, philosophers, and students of literature.
Aristotle’s Poetics is the first philosophical account of an art form and the foundational text in aesthetics. The Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the Poetics is an accessible guide to this often dense and cryptic work. Angela Curran introduces and assesses: Aristotle’s life and the background to the Poetics the ideas and text of the Poetics the continuing importance of Aristotle’s work to philosophy today.
Henri Bergson — Laughter George Meredith — An Essay on Comedy Introduction & Appendix on The Meanings of Comedy by Wylie Sypher Laughter is a mystery—a mystery which defines man. Brought together in this volume are two classic studies of the nature of laughter and comedy. The great French philosopher Henri Bergson develops, in "Laughter," a profound psychological and philisophic theory of the main springs of comedy—a theory closely related to the doctrine of the élan vital. In his "Essay on Comedy," the English novelist George Meredith discusses the varieties of the comic experience and the social and moral function of comedy. Together these two major theories go far toward clarifying the mystery of laughter. Wylie Sypher, in his richly documented supplementary essay, places the views of Bergson and Meredith in a large context of speculation on the nature of comedy. The essay reviews important statements of such thinkers as Aristotle, Hobbes, Baudelaire, Freud, Cornford, and others. It serves to give further significance to Bergson and Meredith and to the meaning of comedy itself.