David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 15 (2):319-330 (2011)
Drawing principally on the Symposium, this paper argues that humor in Plato’s dialogues serves two serious purposes. First, Plato uses puns and other devices to disarm the reader’s defenses and thereby allow her to consider philosophical ideas that she would otherwise dismiss. Second, insofar as human beings can only be understood through unchanging forms that we fail to attain, our lives are discontinuous and only partly intelligible. Since, though, the discontinuity between expectation and actual occurrence is the basis for humor, Plato can use humor to express who we are as human beings.
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