Read On Humour by Simon Critchley Online


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 Critchley 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 whyDoes 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 Critchley 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'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....

Title : On Humour
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780415251211
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 144 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

On Humour Reviews

  • mohsen pourramezani
    2019-02-18 18:45

    کتاب تحقیقی است درباره‌ی لطیفه، طنز و خنده. ه نظرم برای کسی که می‌خواهد در زمینه‌ی طنز تحقیق کند و یا اطلاعات تخصصی‌تری به دست بیارود خوب است اما ممکن است برای مخاطب عام جذاب نباشد.خواندنش برایم جالب بود هرچند که به نظرم ترجمه‌اش می‌توانست بهتر باشد. معادل برخی از اصطلاحات را هم می‌شد در پانویس آورد. مثلا در اینجا «طنز» را معادل humour گرفته است در صورتی که در کتاب‌های دیگری که خوانده‌ام این واژه را بیشتر به «شوخی» ترجمه کرده‌اند و «طنز» را معادل satire گرفته‌‌اند.

  • CJ Bowen
    2019-02-15 16:36

    "A joke explained is a joke misunderstood." 2Credits Morreall with three theories: superiority, relief, and incongruity. 2"Both brevity and speed are the soul of wit." 6"It 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." 9"A 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 squeal of transient delight." 10"In my view, true humor does not wound a specific victim and always contains self-mockery. The object of laughter is the subject who laughs." 14"True jokes would therefore be like shared prayers." 17"However, 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." 17"If laughter is essentially human, then the question of whether Jesus laughed assumes rather obvious theological pertinence to the doctrine of incarnation." 25"What 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 disinterestedly....The great virtue of humor is that it is philosophizing in action, a bright silver thread in the great duvet of existence." 62"Humour views the world from awry, bringing us back to the everyday by estranging us from it." 65"Ethnic humour is very much the Hobbesian laughter of superiority or sudden glory at our eminence and the other's stupidity." 70"It 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 nations.Discusses Coen brothers, 88."Our wretchedness is our greatness." 111

  • Mike Bularz
    2019-01-22 15:28

    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 Humor"Despite that it is still a well written, clever and challenging book on a subject that is hard to write about.very insightful and well worth the effort.

  • Christopher Gontar
    2019-01-23 12:43

    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 man."How 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 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. This book does gesture at this truth about power advancement as expressed in such juxtapositions, never yet 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 more tragic, or at least more mythological than comic.All 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 endowment.But 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 masquerading as analysis. For it is somewhat witty that the explanation of humor would be made even more 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 superficially.Critchley 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 acquired 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 comical.Those, 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 more abstractly.The 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 selfish self-deception. And the humor response is just a mental vicarious imitation of that mad condition.The 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 more serious direction. Mental fracturing is not unique to the comic. This particular sort of desire, since it is abstract (and deriving from phenomenology), belongs more 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 one.Many 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 all.The 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 more powerful human type is more exemplary than a weaker one.I have confronted Critchley in person on the question 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 theory.Well -- have it your 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 more honest position about emotion and human nature.

  • Andrew Chappell
    2019-01-29 16:32

    Wish this guy was even somewhat readable.

  • Daniel
    2019-02-05 19:37

    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 adequately 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 value.That 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 more than I expected he would be, but he's quite helpful as far as this goes, and is much more 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' features.Personal ReflectionOne of his central ideas is that we have primarily humor as a means of therapy to quell the despair of human life in a super ego 2.0 (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 carnivalesque, but rather the modesty of the chuckle or the humble smirk" is to put it in a place below the hysterical in a more 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 ourselves.The 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 ubiquity. 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.

  • Charles Puskas
    2019-02-12 15:39

    From antiquity to modernity, drawing on the work of a vast array of authors, e.g., 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, e.g., 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 more intensely, but not with certain lightness.

  • David
    2019-01-22 12:36

    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, your time might be better spent elsewhere if you are studying oomedy. if you're looking at cross-breeding freud, beckett and nietzsche, this might be your bag.

  • mingfrommongo
    2019-02-20 19:46

    A good but not great introduction to a difficult subject. It starts out heavy on examples of what humor is instead of any theory of why it is, and ends up with a bit too much Freud. Mr. Critchley is a little narrow in his focus (the book's only 111 pages), but does well enough to inspire further reading.

  • Kelly
    2019-02-06 14:38

    This wasn't as great as I thought it would be, but there are a few little epiphanies scattered throughout its pages. It's a fairly conventional philosophical rumination on humor; not an exercise in heavy-lifting by any stretch.

  • Karmen
    2019-02-16 17:32

    Definitely one of the best books on humour I've read. It's clear, short, concise, funny and readable. Author makes really good summary of the main theories on humour, adding his own critical thoughts on the in a witty way. Loved it!

  • Jen
    2019-01-20 14:43

    Comprehensive digest of comic theory