Towards the very end of his wide-ranging lectures on the philosophy of art, Hegel unexpectedly expresses a preference for comedy over tragedy. More surprisingly, given his systematic claims for his aesthetic theory, he suggests that this preference is arbitrary. This essay suggests that this arbitrariness is itself systematic, given Hegel’s broader claims about unity and necessity in art generally and his analysis of ancient as opposed to modern drama in particular. With the emergence of modern subjectivity, tragic plots lose (...) their necessity and so their redemptive conclusions; comic plots disintegrate into mockery and entertainment. In many cases, the dramas in question consequently fail to be art. This does not, however, mean that art ends: insofar as it inspires humans to a better understanding of their unity with the divine, it will continue to meet its mandate. But the lack of necessity in modern drama means we are free to prefer happy endings. Hegel’s seemingly arbitrary preference is, in the end, systematically justified. (shrink)
This essay discusses five main topoi in the Divine Comedy through which teachers might encourage students to explore the question of the Divine Comedy’s treatment of philosophy. These topoi are: (1) The Divine Comedy’s representations in Inferno of noble pagans who are allegorically or historically associated with philosophy or natural reason; (2) its treatment of the relationship between faith and reason and that relationship’s consequences for the text’s understanding of the respective authoritativeness of theology and philosophy; (3) (...) representations in the Divine Comedy that relate to the question of the practical value of philosophical (not to mention theological) speculation; (4) the text’s treatment of the respective merits of practical and contemplative activities; and (5) its implicit defense of philosophy’s authority with respect to ethical and political questions. (shrink)
Over the last three years I have been fortunate to teach an unusual class, one that provides an academic background in ethical and social and political theory using the medium of comedy. I have taught the class at two schools, a private liberal arts college in western Pennsylvania and a public regional state university in southern Georgia. While the schools vary widely in a number of ways, there are characteristics that the students share: the school in Pennsylvania had a (...) large population of students raised in a middle class industrial context, and the school in Georgia had a majority of students from middle-to-lower class agricultural backgrounds. Because of recent collapses in the economy of the tool and dye industry in the Great Lakes region, and the ongoing concerns for development in rural and urban areas of the southeastern United States, both groups of students were in similarly dire economic and working conditions. All faced the distinct possibility that they would not do as well in life as their parents. Most of the students grew up with television and film and had a love of comedy when they arrived at college. -/- Entertainment and mass media contributed to the students' mindset and the lens through which they viewed and interpreted their lived experience. Comedic mass media in the form of television sitcoms and films were common choices for inexpensive entertainment, in their childhood, in their past, in their homes, and now in their college dorms and apartments. In asking students to connect their own history with cultural trends depicted in comedy in film and television, even through the history of television, gave the students a familiar venue to critically consider their own intellectual growth and development and that of American society as a whole. -/- Many of them were familiar with the internet, and enjoyed the internet as a source of information about celebrities as well as the history and episodes of their favorite television shows and films. Students are rediscovering and discovering television programs that their professors may have watched as children, with the availability of a wide range of comedy television programs available on cable, especially TVLand, Comedy Central and Nick-at-Night. -/- In this article I will elaborate on the value of comedy as a teaching tool for philosophers and professors. I will provide a number of examples, showing how comedy can provide fertile examples of ethical theory at work, and I will show how comedy can be used to clarify cultural norms and values. Finally, I will discuss the political activism and student empowerment involved in teaching Philosophy, Comedy and Film in southern Georgia. (shrink)
This book is the first attempt to think philosophically about the comic phenomenon in literature, art, and life. Working across a substantial collection of comic works author Agnes Heller makes seminal observations on the comic in the work of both classical and contemporary figures. Whether she's discussing Shakespeare, Kafka, Rabelais, or the paintings of Brueghel and Daumier Heller's Immortal Comedy makes a characteristic contribution to modern thought across the humanities.
Paradiso 2’s sustained direct address warns readers unprepared for its complexities to “turn back to see your shores again…for perhaps losing me, you would be lost,” but then offers the “other few” who crave “the bread of angels” the promise of a marvel that would rival the deeds of the mythological hero Jason. I will argue that, by appearing to impose this choice on its readers, this direct address in fact activates the craving for the bread of angels (for who, (...) by obeying the interpretive imperative to make such a decision, would not also be one who thereby does choose to pursue the bread that is promised in return for this obedience?). In other words, the very act of interpreting the representation of readers as divided into those who are capable of allegorical interpretation and those who are not constructs and activates the will of a single readership for the Divine Comedy and, consequently, challenges us to provide an articulation of what it means even to read or to misread the Divine Comedy. (shrink)
This paper discloses and furthers the rebirth of comedy in Continental philosophy in three stages. The first treats Greek comedy, bringing forth the comic contours in Plato and exploring the philosophical content of Aristophanic comedy. The second examines certain German encounters with comedy, from the staid Wieland translations of Aristophanes through the thoughtful discussions of Schiller, Hegel, and Nietzsche. The third investigates twentieth-century American comedy and its connection to American Continental philosophy, and includes a close (...) analysis of the Marx Brothers' Horsefeathers . The latter serves as a bridge to some surprising developments regarding comedy, poetry, and philosophy. (shrink)
Dave Chappelle took an extended leave from comedy for moral reasons. I argue that, while he had every right to leave comedy because of his moral concerns, he was not obliged to do so. To make this case, I present Chappelle’s argument that the potential negative consequences of his racial humor obliged him to leave. Next, I argue against Chappelle’s argument about avoidable harms as the harms are not his responsibility, he was not being negligent, and the benefits (...) of his humor outweigh the harms. I also argue in support of the intuition that another’s failure of comprehension or moral character, even if that failure will predictably result in harms to others, should not convert moral acts into immoral ones. (shrink)
The only way to be successful now days in every field of life is the effective use of verbal expression. Language serves as a toolkit to inform, reveal, explore, expose, explain, manipulate, exaggerate, intensify, mitigate and what not. It has every hidden potential to serve its users. Significance of this toolkit of language can also be a bravura feature in gaining comic and/or tragic effects in media. The language of the media violates its few communicative principles which can be termed (...) as Gricean cooperative principle, to serve the specific interests via playing upon the common use of language. The present study explores the intricacies involved in any communication to achieve comic effects. For this purpose, Gricean maxims have been investigated thoroughly with the help of Pakistani comedy show “Bulbulay” which is a famous TV series all over the country. The TV series is considered to be popular among the masses due to its different and unique language that is achieved by flouting the maxims in Gricean’s terminology. The study explains the inimitable ways of achieving comic effects in series and also suggests further work on other areas regarding the unusual use of language to achieve desired results. (shrink)
"Heidegger" and "comedy" are words that one seldom finds conjoined. However, in his 1943 Summer Freiburg lecture course entitled " Der Anfang des abendländischen Denkens. Heraklit ," the word " komisch " occurs significantly, it is regarded as superior to " das Tragische ," and thus can open up a new vista onto Heideggerian thought. In this paper, I discuss Heidegger's interpretive translation of Heraclitus' Fragment 123: Φυσιζ κρυπτ∊σθαι φιλ∊ι. I attempt to show how Heidegger distinguishes his translation and (...) interpretation from other great thinkers and other ways of thought, and how this distinction ultimately unfolds into that unlikeliest and untimeliest of beings, a uniquely comic Heidegger. (shrink)
This essay examines two texts that Walter Benjamin wrote in 1918, during his period in Bern, on Shakespeare’s comedy As you like it and on Le malade imaginaire by Molière When these texts are considered together, a question arises. What is the role of the comic inside Benjamin’s philosophy, in this period and also in the years to follow? Is the comic really only the other side of mourning, as Benjamin writes in The Origin of German Tragic Drama, or (...) does it also have another significance, a significance of its own? Moreover, why should Shakespeare’s comedy be the opposite of Molière’s comedy, as Benjamin writes in the paper on Molière? In order to answer, we are going to set a connection between Shakespeare’s «unarmed eye» and the «innocence» that Molière’s comedy indicates. This will also lead us to another text that was of much significance to Benjamin, Stendhal’s Charterhouse of Parma. Here too, as in As you like it, there is an innocent protagonist trying to escape from the evil of a court. Yet Shakespeare’s As you like it ends with the reconstruction of a court. What does Benjamin mean, then, when he states that in As you like it «everything ends in loneliness»? The answer will provide a point of convergence between Shakespeare’s and Molière’s comedy. Benjamin’s idea of «Weltlichkeit», of which comedy is a necessary part, will prove to be an alternative to the “armed” character of the court. (shrink)
In this essay, I approach the question of comedy and tragedy, as well as their relation to philosophy, in the Platonic dialogues through a focus on the comic poet Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium. I elicit both the positive contribution of the poet’s speech as well as its limitations for an understanding of comedy, tragedy, and philosophy.
Wittgenstein discusses speakers exploiting context to inject meaning into the sentences that they use. One facet of situation comedy is context-injected ambiguity, where scriptwriters artfully construct situations such that, because of conflicting contextual clues, a character, though uttering a sentence that contains neither ambiguous words nor amphibolous contruction may plausibly be interpreted in at least two distinct ways. This highlights an important distinction between the (concise) sentence that a speaker uses and what the speaker means, the disclosure of which (...) may require considerable spelling out. Understanding this phenomenon of nonindexical contextualism is the key to solving, inter alia , problems where, puzzlingly, exchanging a singular term in a statement with a co-referential one fails to preserve truth-value. This is a rare case where there is a huge debate in the recent literature that is decisively settled by Wittgenstein’s approach. (shrink)
In the “Postscript” to his Origin of the Work of Art, Heidegger suggests that one important aim of his investigation into the relation between truth and art is to subject to scrutiny Hegel’s famous thesis on the end of art. The purpose of my essay is to contribute to this project by reexamining aspects of Hegel’s discussion of art in the Phenomenology of Spirit that appear to subvert his own thesis. Hegel’s treatment of ancient Greek drama and, specifically, some of (...) his remarks on comedy, not only bring Hegel’s claim about the end of art into question, but also lend new insights into the possibilities for the relationship between truth and art in our age. (shrink)
Freud had read Bergson’s 1900 book Laughter when he composed his own book on jokes, and, even prior to his development of the concept of the super-ego, Freud had criticized Bergson for not following up his insights into the linkage between comedy and childhood experiences. Freud thus chides Bergson for failing to pursue a line of inquiry that would confirm the ultimately tragic underpinnings of comedy. Wise to this clever and even mischievous little suggestion, Bergson’s book can be (...) read as an account of comedy that might avoid the perennial temptation of yoking it to tragedy. Bergson approaches the problem of comedy in its concreteness, in its liveliness, and follows the various paths of its unfolding. What results is an analysis that shares some similarities with Freud’s investigations but that also eliminates the theoretical prejudices that guide Freud’s reflections. The comic spirit is, first of all, “undefinable.” A strange way to begin an essay on the subject except that, for Bergson, this designation is not a strictly negative one: “we shall not aim at imprisoning the comic spirit within a definition. We regard it, above all, as a living thing. However trivial it may be, we shall treat it with the respect due to life. We shall confine ourselves to watching it grow and expand.” In a deliberate departure from the sort of circumscription that characterizes the style of Aristotle’s Poetics – as well as its progeny – Bergson’s strategy is an indefinite one appropriate to the particular complexity of the subject. The text of the investigation will then share its subject’s style – it will dramatize rather than describe the comic – in order to give an account that is suited to the nature of the comic: it will be neither a joke nor a tragedy. Bergson’s book is of an essential different kind than Freud’s: its focus is upon the motivation or forces that bring laughter and the comic situation into existence. Freud’s analysis ultimately moves in a circle, discovering the tragic principles of its investigation in its conclusion, because it fails to begin with the question closer to the vital complex of which humour and the comic are a part: what advantage does comedy procure for life? (shrink)
This paper reviews and discusses two major publications on Greek comedy (J. Rusten, The Birth of Comedy and I. Storey, Fragments of Old Comedy) in the light of recent advances and trends in scholarship. It focuses in particular on periodization of the genre, including an evaluation of the contribution of ancient scholarship; the evidence for variety in Old Comedy; the different perspectives on competition within the genre; and the presentation and implications of the comic body. An (...) assessment is offered of the impact on scholarship of large-scale research projects such as Kassel and Austin's Poetae Comici Graeci and Koster et al.'s Scholia in Aristophanem, as well as the growing material evidence for Greek comedy, its context and reception. Some significant ongoing problems are identified which require further study. (shrink)
Prefaced by an argument that the ancients understood mimesis as fundamental to being human, and art as therefore essential to human moral and intellectual development, this book starts from the problematic status of the (happily ending) Iphigenia in Poetics. How Aristotle must explicate tragedy to hold Iphigenia as the best thus sets up the exploration of comedy. Chapter two shows that comedy aims at the catharsis of desire and sympathy. This analysis is then applied in detail to Aristophanes’ (...) Acharnians, Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Stoppard’s Arcadia, exhibiting the cross-cultural application of the theory which Aristotle would expect. (shrink)
The Western philosophical tradition has shown a marked and perennial fondness for tragedy. From Plato and Aristotle, through the development of Christianity, to German idealism, and even to contemporary reflections on the murderous violence of the twentieth century, philosophy has repeatedly looked to tragedy for resources to make suffering, grief, and death thinkable. But what if by showing such a preference for tragedy, philosophical thought has unwittingly and unknowingly aligned itself with a form of thinking that accepts human suffering and (...) pain without protest? This collection explores possibilities for philosophical thinking that refuse the tragic model of thought and turn instead to its often-overlooked companion: comedy. Composed of a series of experiments ranging across the philosophical tradition, the essays in this volume propose to break, or at least suspend, the use of tragedy as an index of truth and philosophical worth. Instead, they explore new conceptions of solidarity, sympathy, critique, and justice. In addition, the essays collected here provide ample reason to believe that philosophical thinking, aligned with comedy, is capable of important and original insights, discoveries, and creations. The prejudicial acceptance of tragic seriousness only impoverishes the life of thought; it can be rejuvenated and renewed by laughter and the comic. This book was originally published as a special issue of Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities. (shrink)
This book offers an analysis of humor, comedy, and laughter as philosophical topics in the 19th Century. It traces the introduction of humor as a new aesthetic category inspired by Laurence Sterne’s "Tristram Shandy" and shows Sterne’s deep influence on German aesthetic theorists of this period. Through differentiating humor from comedy, the book suggests important distinctions within the aesthetic philosophies of G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Solger, and Jean Paul Richter. The book links Kant’s underdeveloped incongruity theory of laughter to (...) Schopenhauer’s more complete account and identifies humor’s place in the pessimistic philosophy of Julius Bahnsen. It considers how caricature functioned at the intersection of politics, aesthetics, and ethics in Karl Rosenkranz’s work, and how Kierkegaard and Nietzsche made humor central not only to their philosophical content but also to its style. The book concludes with an explication of French philosopher Henri Bergson’s claim that laughter is a response to mechanical inelasticity. (shrink)
I discuss Dante’s understanding that human existence is “ordered by two final goals” and how, for Dante, this understanding defines philosophy’s and revelation’s respective scopes of authority in guiding human conduct. Specifically, I show that, although Dante subordinates our earthly beatitude to spiritual beatitude in a way that seems to suggest the subordination of the authority of philosophy to that of revelation, he in fact limits philosophy’s scope to an arena in which its authority is not only legitimate but also (...) crucial to the cultivation of the higher, spiritual beatitude of human activity. (shrink)
Hegel’s philosophical system turns to a species of the laughable at three critical junctures of his dialectic: comedy appears both at the conclusion of classical art and of Hegel’s discussion of poetry, and romantic art ends with humor. But we misunderstand these transitional moments unless we recognize that Hegel did not use comedy and humor synonymously. Comedy refers to a dramatic genre with a 2000-year-old history; humor was a relatively recent aesthetic phenomenon that had become central to (...) philosophizing about art in Hegel’s generation. Hegel also differentiated between subjective humor, which he associated with the novelist Jean Paul’s eccentric excesses, and objective humor. Focusing on the surprising examples Hegel offers of objective humor— from epigrams to Persian poetry to the obscure novels of T.G. von Hippel—I argue that we better understand Hegel’s “end of art” thesis by tracing ways both comedy and humor can end. By understanding those endings, we also come closer to imagining how art can continue. (shrink)
A partir de la afirmación de S. Critchley de que el psicoanálisis es la prolongación, profundización y complicación de lo que él llama paradigma trágico-heroico , se trata de precisar que lo trágico es lo que hace inseparables la teoría y la experiencia psicoanalítica de la risa y los fenómenos ligados a ella. Esto, en general, ha sido insuficientemente indagado. Siguiendo estos argumentos, se presentan algunas observaciones en torno a esa especie de exhortación “volver a las cosas mismas”, tan afín (...) al método freudiano, al “uso” de lo trágico-heroico en Lacan, al concepto de Cosa al aporte de Freud al humor . Por otra parte, y en completa relación con lo anterior, se destacan algunos señalamientos lacanianos que ubican al “cuerpo” como central en la experiencia de lo cómico. Y por último, se examina la contraposición Bergson - Freud - Lacan en torno a la risa, lo mecánico y el lenguaje. (shrink)
The present essay argues that Bergson’s account of the comic can only be fully appreciated when read in conjunction with his later metaphysical exposition of the élan vital in Creative Evolution and then by the account of fabulation that Bergson only elaborates fully three decades later in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion. The more substantive account of the élan vital ultimately shows that, in Laughter, Bergson misses his own point: laughter does not simply serve as a means for (...) correcting human behavior but is rather the élan vital’s vital summons, the demand of life itself, that human beings challenge their obligations, question their societal forms, and thereby create new and, for Bergson, more ideal forms of life and community. (shrink)
Why philosophize about comedy? What is the use of investigating the comical from philosophical and psychoanalytic perspectives? In The Odd One In, Alenka Zupancic [haceks over both cs] considers how philosophy and psychoanalysis can help us understand the movement and the logic involved in the practice of comedy, and how comedy can help philosophy and psychoanalysis recognize some of the crucial mechanisms and vicissitudes of what is called humanity. Comedy by its nature is difficult to pin (...) down with concepts and definitions, but as artistic form and social practice comedy is a mode of tarrying with a foreign object--of including the exception. Philosophy's relationship to comedy, Zupancic [haceks over both cs] writes, is not exactly a simple story. It could begin with the lost book of Aristotle's Poetics, which discussed comedy and laughter. But Zupancic [haceks over both cs] draws on a whole range of philosophers and exemplars of comedy, from Aristophanes, Molière, Hegel, Freud, and Lacan to George W. Bush and Borat. She distinguishes incisively between comedy and ideologically imposed, "naturalized" cheerfulness. Real, subversive comedy thrives on the short circuits that establish an immediate connection between heterogeneous orders. Zupancic [haceks over both cs] examines the mechanisms and processes by which comedy lets the odd one in. Alenka Zupancic [haceks over both cs] is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, Slovene Academy of Sciences, Ljubljana. She is the author of The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two. (shrink)
Bill Cosby’s immorality has raised intriguing aesthetic and ethical issues. Do the crimes that he has been convicted of lessen the aesthetic value of his stand-up and, even if we can enjoy it, should we? This article first discusses the intimate relationship between the comedian and audience. The art form itself is structurally intimate, and at the same time the comedian claims to express an authentic self on stage. After drawing an analogy between the question of the moral character of (...) comedians and the aesthetic value of their stand-up and the debate over the ethical criticism of art, this article argues that it is reasonable to find a comedian’s performance less funny, because stand-up’s artistic success relies on this intimacy. It contrasts the comedy of Bill Cosby with that of Louis C.K. C.K.’s moral flaws are much more present in his comedy, and it is therefore more difficult to find him funny. Last, it is ethically permissible to enjoy their comedy, if no harm to others results, both because it does not corrupt the audience’s character and because amusement is valuable. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that sensibility‐invariantism about ‘funny’ is defensible, not just as a descriptive hypothesis, but, as a normative position as well. What I aim to do is to make the realist commitments of the sensibility‐invariantist out to be much more tenable than one might initially think them to be. I do so by addressing the two major sources of discontent with sensibility‐invariantism: the observation that discourse about comedy exhibits significant divergence in judgment, and the fact that (...) disagreements about comedy, unlike disagreements about, say, geography, often strike us as fundamentally intractable. (shrink)
Dying is easy; comedy is hard. Comedy is sovereign. I begin with an excerpt from Bertolt Brecht’s Fugitive Conversations. Ziffel, a physicist, is chatting with the worker Kalle: For humor, I always think of the philosopher Hegel.... He had the makings of one of the greatest humorists among the philosophers.... I read his book The Great Logic once, when I had rheumatism and couldn’t move. It’s one of the greatest humorous works of world literature. It treats of the (...) way of life of concepts, those slippery, unstable, irresponsible existences; how they abuse one another and fight with knives and then sit down together to supper as though nothing had happened.... They can live... (shrink)
One evening years ago I was watching a performance of the Chinese Magic Circus of Taiwan when it suddenly came to me that the fundamental characteristics of comedy were being acted out before my eyes. The discovery seems ironic in retrospect, as I did not find the performance very amusing, but the crude simplicity of the act illuminated the underlying dynamics of the genre. Two Taiwanese clowns came on stage dressed in the traditional white coverall and floppy hat that (...) signify a chef. One of them announced that he and his companion were Puerto Rican chefs, and they proceeded to set up a row of nine springy bamboo poles, each about seven feet high, each one stuck vertically into a firm base and separated from the. (shrink)
According to Hegel, art in its ‘supreme task’ is engaged in ‘bringing to our minds and expressing the Divine, the deepest interests of mankind, and the most comprehensive truths of the spirit’. Raymond Geuss, in a highly illuminating paper, has connected Hegel’s conception of art’s supreme task with the project of theodicy. In this paper I explore Hegel’s aesthetics of comedy through this theodicy-based framework Geuss has proposed, and I consider what light this framework can shed on comedy (...) and, reciprocally, what light comedy can shed on it. In particular, invocation of a theodicy can give the impression of art as a kind of defense of the status quo. Yet Hegel’s brief, but pivotal remarks on comedy complicate this picture in an interesting way. The best comedy does reassure us about the basic rationality and goodness of the world. Yet Aristophanic comedy—the sort Hegel lauds as the best and the most truly comic—has a strongly social-critical streak that Hegel notes with great admiration. Hegel’s theory of comedy says as much about him as it does about the genre. But if we are attentive to Hegel’s remarks on comedy, they will offer us a point of resistance against overly Panglossian interpretations of the Hegelian supreme task of art and will help us better understand in what way active social criticism through art is compatible with that higher calling. (shrink)
By way of attempting to explain comic pleasure, this paper proposes an outline for an inclusive theory of comedy — ‘inclusive’ in the sense of amalgamating various past contributions that tend to be thought of as mutually exclusive. More specifically, this essay will (a) propose a teleological definition of comedy, (b) integrate seemingly competing accounts of laughter into a relatively unified explanation, (c) clarify the connection between laughter and comedy, (d) defend a flexible ontology of comic response (...) that enables the coexistence of genuinely competing paradigms of the mind (which, in turn, underlie seemingly competing theories of comic reception), and (e) will suggest how comic pleasure forms an indispensable addition to a theory of comedy. (shrink)
Tragedy is superior to comedy. This is the received view in much philosophical aesthetics, literary criticism and amongst many ordinary literary appreciators. The paper outlines three standard types of reasons given to underwrite the conceptual nature of the superiority claim, focusing on narrative structure, audience response and moral or human significance respectively. It sketches some possible inter-relations amongst the types of reasons given and raises various methodological worries about how the argument for tragedy’s superiority typically proceeds. The paper then (...) outlines a new normative account of a type of literary or dramatic comedy – ‘high comedy’ – which proves to be tragedy’s equal. High comedies, it will be argued, have complex narrative structures shaping audience responses underwriting the moral significance of the comic mode. The received view is unjustified and appreciating why this is so casts light on the nature and value of comedy. (shrink)
The Western philosophical tradition shows a marked fondness for tragedy. From Plato and Aristotle, through German idealism, to contemporary reflections on the murderous violence of the twentieth century, philosophy has often looked to tragedy for resources to make suffering, grief, and death thinkable. But what if, in showing this preference, philosophical thought has unwittingly and unknowingly aligned itself with a form of thinking that accepts injustice without protest? What if tragedy, and the philosophical thinking that mobilizes it, gives a tacit (...) assent to injustice?This collection explores possibilities for philosophical thinking that are revealed by deliberately refusing the tragic model of thought, by turning instead to its often-overlooked companion: comedy. Comprising a series of experiments ranging across the philosophical tradition, the essays in this volume propose to break, or at least suspend, the use of tragedy as an index of truth and philosophical worth. In so doing, they explore new conceptions of solidarity, sympathy, critique, and justice.In conjunction with the extended network of projects and ideas with which they engage, the essays collected here provide ample reason to believe that philosophical thinking, aligned with comedy, is capable of important and original insights, discoveries, and creations. The prejudicial acceptance of tragic seriousness only impoverishes the life of thought; it can be rejuvenated and renewed by laughter and the comic. (shrink)
Plato’s dialogue Cratylus focuses on being and human dependence on words, or the essential truths about the human condition. Arguing that comedy is an essential part of Plato's concept of language, S. Montgomery Ewegen asserts that understanding the comedic is key to an understanding of Plato's deeper philosophical intentions. Ewegen shows how Plato’s view of language is bound to comedy through words and how, for Plato, philosophy has much in common with playfulness and the ridiculous. By tying words, (...) language, and our often uneasy relationship with them to comedy, Ewegen frames a new reading of this notable Platonic dialogue. (shrink)
Recently, the philosophical significance of comedy has attracted a great deal of attention from Continental philosophers, including this author. After venturing an account for this sudden interest, this paper surveys six contemporary books that take different views of this phenomenon. This fertile field will surely benefit from the contributions and responses of Philosophy Compass' readers.
This book is a defense of speculative philosophy in the wake of Hegel. In a number of wide-ranging, meditative essays, Desmond deals with the criticism of speculative thought in post-Hegelian thinking. He covers the interpretation of Hegelian speculation in terms of the metataxological notion of being and the concept of philosophy that Desmond has developed in two previous works, Philosophy and Its Others, and Desire, Dialectic and Otherness. Though Hegel is Desmond’s primary interlocuter, there are references to Aristophanes, Socrates, Plato, (...) Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida. Desmond is concerned with the limits of philosophy. The themes of the essays include speculation and historicism, speculation and cult, speculation and representation, evil and dialectic, logos and the comedy of failure. (shrink)
The comic dramatists of the fifth centuryb.c.were notable for their preoccupation with poetics – that is, their frequent references to their own poetry and that of others, their overt interest in the Athenian dramatic festivals and their adjudication, their penchant for parody and pastiche, and their habit of self-conscious reflection on the nature of good and bad poetry. I have already explored these matters at some length, in my study of the relationship between comedy and literary criticism in the (...) period before Plato and Aristotle. This article continues the story into the fourth century and beyond, examining the presence and function of poetical and literary-critical discourse in what is normally called ‘middle’ and ‘new’ comedy. (shrink)
The number of speaking actors in Old Comedy has been much discussed, but no consensus has been reached. The old assumption that the number was three, as in tragedy, was shaken when it was realized that some scenes of Aristophanes have four characters on-stage at once, all taking part in the dialogue: for example, in Lys. 77–253 we have Lysistrate, Kalonike, Myrrhine, and Lampito, and in Frogs 1414–81 we have Dionysos, Aiskhylos, Euripides, and Plouton. Rees therefore argued that there (...) was no fixed number, but that view was not generally accepted. A more widely held view is that there were three principal actors with additional performers for small parts. However, there is no evidence contemporary with Aristophanes which distinguishes three actors from the others in this way, and it is probable that writers of later periods who mention three actors are referring to their own times and did not have authentic information about the fifth century. The passage which DFA, p. 149, seems to regard as the most trustworthy is in a brief account of comedy attributed to Tzetzes: πιγενμενος δ Κρατνος κατστησε μν πρτον τ ν τ κωμδ πρσωπα μεχρ τριν, στσας τν ταξαν4 DFA paraphrases this as ‘Cratinus reduced the disorderliness and, in some sense, fixed the number of regular actors at three’. But πρσωπα means ‘masks’ or ‘characters’; it does not mean ‘actors’ . What the writer meant by saying that Kratinos settled the masks or characters in comedy at ‘up to three’ is not clear, but his statement is useless as evidence for the number of actors. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to reconsider a number of aspects of Aristotle's thinking on comedy in the light of the acknowledged Aristotelian corpus. I shall have nothing to say about the Tractatus Coislinianus, an obscure and contentious little document which must remain an inappropriate starting-point for discussion. There is still, I believe, something to be learnt from the extant works.
The focus of this paper is the intertextual relationship between the work of François Truffaut and that of Honoré de Balzac. It explores Balzac's influence on the shaping of Truffaut's voice and argues that Balzac's Human Comedy served Truffaut as a model for some of his cinematic innovations. This applies to Truffaut's total oeuvre, but particularly to his series of autobiographical films, ?The Adventures of Antoine Doinel?: The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups, 1959), Antoine and Colette, Love at (...) Twenty (Antoine et Colette, L'Amour à Vingt Ans, 1962), Stolen Kisses (Baisers Volés, 1968), Bed and Board (Domicile Conjugal, 1970), Love on the Run (L'Amour en Fuite, 1979). In examining Truffaut's ?rewriting? of Balzac, I adopt?and adapt?the intertextual approach of Harold Bloom's theory of the ?anxiety of influence.? My paper applies Bloom's concept of misreading to an examination of the relationship between Truffaut's autobiographical films, and Balzac's Human Comedy, both thematically and structurally. (shrink)
While it has perhaps always accompanied philosophical thought – one immediately thinks of Plato’s Dialogues – the problem of the communication of that thought, and therefore of its capacity to be taught, has acquired a new insistence in the work of post-Kantian thinkers. As evidence of this one could cite Fichte’s repeated efforts to formulate a definitive version of his Wissenschaftslehre, the model of the Bildungsroman that Hegel adopts for his Phenomenology of Spirit, Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous works, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, (...) and Heidegger’s uncompleted Being and Time. Certainly each of these thinkers, as well as their projects, are quite distinct from the others, but their works are also signposts. It is not a question here of reducing the puzzles and difficulties of these works to some single element, some trace of a philosophical zeitgeist. Rather, it is enough to indicate this preoccupation with the problem of the communicability of thinking in order to raise the question of the modality of such a communication. How has thinking come to be so fundamentally troubled by its own expression? That Kant’s Critical philosophy has precipitated this preoccupation ought to come as no surprise, for it was Kant, most famously in the Critique of Pure Reason, who sought to definitively set the limits of philosophical thinking. In doing so, however, Kant is unable to remain utterly silent about what he himself sets outside the bounds of meaningful thought and speech: things-in-themselves. The mere fact that this meaningless element is an essential component of Kant’s philosophical exposition is an indication of the paradoxical logic of the limit: to postulate a limit is simultaneously to set out its obverse side. In Kant’s case, then, the demarcation of what can be thought carries with it the implicit thinking of what is ruled out of bounds for thought. Beginning with Fichte, the philosophical project of Kant’s successors and inheritors is then largely determined by an effort to incorporate or at least accommodate this alien element within thinking. The initial phase of this effort is marked by a tragic motif, a conjoining of thought with the experience of loss and suffering that is characteristic of Romanticism, that culminates in the dialectic of Hegel’s Absolute Knowing. In Absolute Knowing, thought has not vanquished its limitations, it has instead discovered the resources with which it can perpetually surmount them. This first phase is followed by a reaction or response to this seeming completion and overcoming of the Kantian limitation. Now, the tragic movement of thought comes to be understood as itself limited, and necessarily so according to the logic of the limit that imposes itself upon every gesture of closure. Tragedy thereby gives way to comedy insofar as the limitation that is incorporated as an obstacle to be overcome by tragic thought is shown to be the external condition of that very thought. Finally, if the comic is the fate of the limitations of tragedy, the thought of comedy itself demands a third mode of thinking, one capable of something more than the mere reiteration of the limit between comedy and tragedy that troubles them both. This third form of expression is parody, an expression appropriate to a thinking that repeats and completes the threefold movement of tragic thought while, in this very repetition, creating a limitless domain of thoughtful expression. (shrink)
In _Comedy Incarnate_, Noël Carroll surveys the characteristics of Buster Keaton’s unique visual style, to reveal the distinctive experience of watching Keaton’s films. Bold and provocative thesis written by one of America’s foremost film theorists Takes a unique look at the philosophies behind Keaton’s style Weighs visual elements over narrative form in the analysis of the Keaton’s work Provides a fresh vantage point for analysis of film and comedy itself.