Simon Critchley: On Humour Thinking in Action

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One could say it is admirable to undertake a bit of a philosophical run at humor in the end there s not much new to think about here it s pretty clear that good master simon and i share attitudes towards humor but the reassurance wasn t necessarily worth the hundred pages or so there are a couple moments of concision a rarity for anyone admittedly engrossed in philosophy that are nice potentially useful for a future statement or something i guess i don t want to dog it but really our time might be better spent elsewhere if ou are studying oomedy if ou re looking at cross breeding freud beckett and nietzsche this might be our bag From antiuity to modernity drawing on the work of a vast array of authors eg Jonathan Swift Laurence Sterne Anthony Earl of Shaftsbury liberty loves humour Henri Bergson the mechanization of humans Beckett risus purus and Freud the mellowing of the superego This book turns the comical insight out to reveal delectable insights about what we find funny eg feelings of superiority hydraulic psychological relief the felt incongruity of what we know or expect and what actually takes place Critchley reveals the humanity of humour in being able to laugh at himelf and finding oneself ridiculous Humour is a great anti depressant that does not lead one to escape reality but to face up to it intensely but not with certain lightness ContentThis is a fine read for what it sets out to do Lately I ve discovered the intentional fallacy the idea that a work or thing is not adeuately judged on the basis of what it does on an absolute basis but on the basis of what it intends to do making its success a function of its aim not its success This fallacy underscores the importance in criticism to weigh a work apart from what the author intended what resulted from that intention or what I would have done given the project The work must be valued apart from all intent to impart valueThat said I wish this survey would have gone on longer There are many ideas that are hinted at but not developed to a full degree The advantage of this is a broad easily accessible philosophical discussion of humor humour for this Brit suitable as a gateway into further study of the subject Freud is cited than I expected he would be but he s uite helpful as far as this goes and is much of a catholic thinker than I realized before reading this book His opus Interpretation of Dreams almost titled Psychological Ejaculations endured a lifetime of elongation and revision whereas his work on humor received no postpublishing attention from Editor Sigmund This is to say that it presents a highly unified tone and focused thesis unlike IoD In addition to Fond er Freud Critchley cites Nietzsche Wittgenstein Marx of the Brothers variety and each chapter starts with amusing drawings of animals and humans with those animals featuresPersonal ReflectionOne of his central ideas is that we have primarily humor as a means of therapy to uell the despair of human life in a super ego 20 the not Oedipal kind but a helpful reflective I suppose to a hopeless not disparagingly but as a designation of one who has no resurrection hope secular humanist this is a logical conclusion so I can t fault the logical outcome of one s presuppositions but I don t agree with them either To define humor as Critchley does as certainly not the buffonic back slapping Rabelaisian guffaw of the carnivalesue but rather the modesty of the chuckle or the humble smirk is to put it in a place below the hysterical in a reflective category one that really is a function of what one believes to be true of the world The humor of heaven takes a different texture but in a way that is expansive to his notion of how we use humor to help us understand pain frustration powerlessness and a final inability to know others fully let alone ourselvesThe expansion of a heavenly wit adds the possibility of redemption the idea that as bad or even simply incongruous things may seem someday they will be brought back from estranged status into their own true ubiuity Though we may use a kind of other as the basis for humor now I excitedly anticipate Christ s eschatological remaking of the world and the humor that will arise in a rightly ordered ordo amoris Laughter at oneself is better than laughter at others Get ridiculous wiser wittier and comforting Wish this guy was even somewhat readable A good introduction to humor studies but spends perhaps a bit too much of its short span only around 110 pages talking about Freud and not developing many of the other fascinating ideas it introduces I enjoyed Critchley s writing though found elements self contradictory his morally righteous attempt to eliminate targeted subjects in humour completely goes against his need for one to take on the ro. Does humour make us human or do the cats and dogs laugh along with us On Humour is a fascinating beautifully written and funny book on what humour can tell us about being human Simon Critchle.

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Les of the absurd and the subordinate in the case of expectation subversion and societal introspection respectively Otherwise an enjoyable read He makes the digestion of comedy theory uite easy in this light hearted but thoroughly researched work Critchley s analysis of humor is mostly in error though it points toward the true theory of humor that I presented in 2011 having begun to develop it in 2008 How does he point in the right direction While he focuses on the fictional notion of objects or animals bestowed with humanity this happens to be a key image of diminutive self deception of superiority Rather than for the reasons Critchley gives we find the animal as human funny for the simpler reason that it represents a kind of small scale ambition the desire to be manHow anyone can deny a principle like that and prefer the threadbare alternatives objectively is beyond me Is it worth it to reject something so ingenious and original as that all to support the inferior status uo Surely ou can understand an argument as simple as this so if تعلم jQuery فى 120 دقيقة you don t agree or fail to actou are delinuent By flouting the rule of reason Damian (The Caine Brothers you refuse to grow up You are being asked repeatedly to respect truth like a rebellious twelveear oldThe 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 humansBut 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 This book does gesture at this truth about power advancement as expressed in such juxtapositions never et explicitly acknowledged by the human race Yet otherwise the book is not of much value Worse perhaps Critchley might also have made a better interpretation of what he presents as the opposite of thing becoming human For when mentioning man becoming animal he does not tell us that this transformation is epitomized in the punishment of mortals in Ovid s Metamorphoses In other words he misses the strong possibility that this reversed transformation is tragic or at least mythological than comicAll of Critchley s analysis of humor then continually returns to the image of the human as divided between soul and body as a sign that the mind does not belong to the body and is too great for it Critchley thinks that all humor alludes to this image of the human as a thinking animal or thinking inert object On that point he is correct Humor does indeed always allude to this image to one degree or another He is right to note a break or discrepancy that makes any less than human thing endowed with consciousness look ridiculous for that endowmentBut the error is to claim that our disposition or response of amusement consists in recognizing the futility of the effort to close this gap between soul and body To say as Critchley does that our sense of humor makes use of that undeniably humorous image in such an overly complex way is really a jest masuerading as analysis For it is somewhat witty that the explanation of humor would be made even ineffectively pedantic than it naturally is And it is an idea in which Critchley is influenced by Freud who thought that the explosive moment of getting humor and of laughing itself were signs of discovered futility It did not work well with Freud who did not publish a single correct explanation of a complex joke even superficiallyCritchley seems to agree that we see a ridiculous person as being mismatched as to soul and body Their soul in this sense represents the behavior or higher mental ability they have strangely acuired or pretend to have Their body being that of an animal or a child may be understood as their actual life the reality that they face and are in denial of Critchley only sees the surface of this relation not what is going on at the heart of it nor why it is humorous or comicalThose in any case are the ideas through which humor arises for its own sake and as the driving force or substance of social conversation a competency in mirth which it seems truly fortunate to possess Persons who ridicule either themselves or others are still at least using the same image when they create humor abstractlyThe mismatching of a soul and body then is a central image that is found in humor and comedy It calls for an explanation or reason for its effect The simplest and most convincing reason is that this ridiculous object like all others represents diminutive. Y skilfully probes some of the most perennial but least understood aspects of humour such as our tendency to laugh at animals and our bodies why we mock death with comedy and why we think it'.

Selfish self deception And the humor response is just a mental vicarious imitation of that mad conditionThe fact that the soul mismatched with its human body evokes delusion explains why it is a non serious and comical image And when Critchley focuses on the inner experience of fracturing he takes us in a serious direction Mental fracturing is not uniue to the comic This particular sort of desire since it is abstract and deriving from phenomenology belongs to tragedy than to comedy Although the image of the thing as human is comical the striving for integration that it might evoke is a tragic nisus or effort not a comic or humorous oneMany have written for example Alenka Zupancic about how all serious things are at all times vulnerable to humor though we never find them to be inherently or objectively ridiculous So for Zupancic as well as Critchley it does look as though all people and figuratively even things seek to preserve themselves from the fracturing that leads to their being seen as ridiculous or to their breaking into laughter But because this larger category applies to all things and not merely minds it does not support Critchley s thesis at allThe image of the human as divided between soul and body is funny just because it is an image of delusion or selfish self deception It is impossible that there is any other reason The human is thus seen as a thing or animal that aspires to the human Just as in the Sartrean dictum that man is the desire to be God so we should say though it is not literally true that dog is the desire to be man But all mere things appear as signs of the desire to be man to be sentient or conscious things of which a powerful human type is exemplary than a weaker oneI have confronted Critchley in person on the uestion why he doesn t want to see these images in this simple sense of delusion or petty ambition and he has given no reason why he doesn t want to see it that way One might write a book now about how unobjective and irrational our academic culture has become Perhaps it would have even further positive effects than improving this issue of humor theoryWell have it our way for now don t entertain ideas and truth but promote what is worthwhile in individuality difference and contingency But if public opinion turns around then philosophy might follow suit by adopting a honest position about emotion and human nature A bit pretentious sounding through use of name of person who created idea ian ism and strange vocab like bathetic that and it is basically a plagiarism of John Allen Paulos s Mathematics and HumorDespite that it is still a well written clever and challenging book on a subject that is hard to write aboutvery insightful and well worth the effort A joke explained is a joke misunderstood 2Credits Morreall with three theories superiority relief and incongruity 2Both brevity and speed are the soul of wit 6It is this link to the body that was the reason for the Christian condemnation of laughter in the early Middle Ages its careful codification in the later middle Ages before the explosion of laughter in the early Renaissance in the work of Rabelais and Erasmus 9A true joke a comedian s joke suddenly and explosively lets us see the familiar defamiliarized the ordinary made extraordinary and the real rendered surreal and we laugh in a physiological sueal of transient delight 10In my view true humor does not wound a specific victim and always contains self mockery The object of laughter is the subject who laughs 14True jokes would therefore be like shared prayers 17However in my view humour does not redeem us from this world but returns us to it ineluctably by showing that there is no alternative The consolations of humor come from acknowledging that this is the only world and imperfect as it is and we are it is only here that we can make a difference 17If laughter is essentially human then the uestion of whether Jesus laughed assumes rather obvious theological pertinence to the doctrine of incarnation 25What is funny finally is the fact of having a body But to find this funny is to adopt a philosophical perspective it is to view the world and and myself disinterestedlyThe great virtue of humor is that it is philosophizing in action a bright silver thread in the great duvet of existence 62Humour views the world from awry bringing us back to the everyday by estranging us from it 65Ethnic humour is very much the Hobbesian laughter of superiority or sudden glory at our eminence and the other s stupidity 70It is a curious fact that much humour particularly when one thinks of Europe is powerfully connected to perceived but curiously outdated national styles and national differences 70 71 cf myth of nationsDiscusses Coen brothers 88Our wretchedness is our greatness 111. S funny when people act like machines He also looks at the darker side of humour as rife in sexism and racism and argues that it is important for reminding us of people we would rather not be.

Simon Critchley born 27 February 1960 in Hertfordshire is an English philosopher currently teaching at The New School He works in continental philosophy Critchley argues that philosophy commences in disappointment either religious or political These two axes may be said largely to inform his published work religious disappointment raises the uestion of meaning and has to as he sees it de