The Importance of Humor in Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy 34 (2):143-149 (2011)
Philosophy and joke telling do not share the same pedigree, but both can have an allied function and purpose. Philosophy and joke telling can help us to organize, interpret, possibly understand, or, at least, hopefully face and confront the fundamental issues of existence.Let me be more precise about what I mean by using humor and jokes in teaching philosophy. Humor, joke telling, can serve as a narrative playlet to metaphorically illuminate a complex philosophical concept. However, every class should not simply be played for laughs and comedic effect. Rather, through the judicious use of joke telling, the instructor needs to create an atmosphere of “respectful playfulness” which allows students an opportunity to comfortably address some of the complexities, confusions, and conundrums of the human condition
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