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On Humour (Thinking in Action) Paperback – May 31, 2002
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Critchley's writing is extremely enjoyable. His theorizing could be occasionally hard to grasp if not familiar with his philosophical background, but the book never turns dull. Actually, in addition to being able to keep up the reader's enthusiasm, Critchley's writing is also remarkably amusing. Not only being explained perceiving theory of comedy, the reader is also able to test the theory himself while reading by observing his own chuckles, bursts of laughter and dark grins as Critchley tells -- depending on the context -- more or less witty jests. And always the jokes help to illustrate his more academical ends.
Personally I found the work fresh and inspiring, and also in aesthetic sense nimble. Enjoyable book, from cover to cover.
Laughter, at heart, is a philosophical problem. If we knew for certain the source of mirth, and we might someday, we wouldn't need sitcoms, romantic comedies, or bawdy limericks to stimulate our pleasure centers. We do know that humans laugh, and laughter seems indubitably human. This small and entertaining book by philosopher Simon Critchley starts with that simple proposition. We laugh but why? Other animals, such as hawks or grouse, don't seem to. But "reducing" a human to an animal or vice versa seems to make us smirk, or at least feel disgust, depending on the analogy. Anthropomorphizing animals, on the other hand, really seems to get us going. The book cites numerous examples, including cartoons such as "The Far Side" (as well as a joke about a rather naughty talking bear). Lurking underneath such species bending is human behavior. It turns out, according to this book, that we're far funnier than any animal. At the core of humor we find ourselves. All of our glory and puffery can get reduced to ridiculousness by an ill-timed fart. Such events verify our corporeality.Read more ›
How anyone can deny a principle like that and prefer the threadbare alternatives--objectively--is beyond me. Is it worth it to reject something that ingenious and original, all to support the totally inferior status quo? Surely you can understand an argument as simple as this, so if you don't agree or fail to act, you are delinquent. By flouting the rule of reason you refuse to grow up. You are being asked repeatedly to respect truth, like a rebellious twelve-year-old.
The desire to be man in beings that are non-human, is not literal of course, but only figurative. And the less than human is a sign referring to type-differences among actual humans.
But what is signified in that case is real. And wherever there is any kind of ambition -- which is comical if it is small -- there's self-deception. All humor and comedy either constitute or represent this idea. But the aspiration in the thing-as-human is an elementary fact of experience, and the explanation is original to me. I point to that originality not in my own interest but to indicate a remarkable deficiency in psychology and philosophy.Read more ›