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 showing a preference for tragedy, philosophical thought has unwittingly and unknowingly aligned itself with a form of thinking that accepts injustice without protest?
This collection explores possibilities for philosophical thinking that refuses the tragic model of thought, and turns instead to its often-overlooked companion: comedy. Comprising 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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Why So Serious? On Philosophy and Comedy 1. Plato and the Spectacle of Laughter 2. Homage to Penia: Aristophanes’ Plutus as Philosophical Comedy 3. Prostrating Before Adrasteia: Comedy, Philosophy and ‘One’s Own’ in Republic V 4. At Least They Had an Ethos: Comedy as the Only Possible Critique 5. Absolute Knowing: Consternation and Preservation in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida 6. Something Mechanical Encrusted on the Living or, "Que Signifie le Rire?" 7. Humor, Law, and Jurisprudence: On Deleuze’s Political Philosophy 8. Go Bleep Yourself: Why Censorship is Funny 9. Quantum Andy: Andy Kaufman and the Postmodern Turn in Comedy 10. Being Funny: Ontology is a Queer Subject (or, Tractatus Cucumber Saladicus) (a Zen Maoist Koan)
Russell Ford is Donald W. & Betty J. Buik Chair and Professor of Philosophy at Elmhurst College, USA. He received his PhD from Penn State University in Philosophy and in Literary Theory, Criticism, and Aesthetics. In addition to his work on the relations between philosophy and comedy he is also completing a manuscript on the early work of Gilles Deleuze tentatively titled Between Immanence and Transcendence.