The epistemic function of contempt and laughter in Nietzsche

In Michelle Mason (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Contempt. Rowman & Littlefield (2018)
Authors
Mark Alfano
Delft University of Technology
Abstract
Interpreters have noticed that Nietzsche, in addition to sometimes being uproariously funny, reflects more on laughter and having a sense of humor than almost any other philosopher. Several scholars have further noticed that Nietzschean laughter sometimes seems to have an epistemic function. In this chapter, I assume that Nietzsche is a pluralist about the functions of humor and laughter, and seek to establish the uses he finds for them. I offer an interpretation according to which he tactically uses humor and laughter for epistemic purposes. His epistemic aims include enabling inquiry (when faith and reverence might have forbidden it), achieving knowledge (for himself or for his reader), and abandoning error (again for himself or for his reader). Humor supports these goals by inducing contempt and the laughter that expresses (and sometimes also conjures) it.
Keywords contempt  laughter  humor  epistemology  Nietzsche
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