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.
Introduction: Why So Serious? On Philosophy and Comedy Russell Ford
1. Plato and the Spectacle of Laughter Michael Naas
2. Homage to Penia: Aristophanes’ Plutus as Philosophical Comedy Bernard Freydberg
3. Prostrating Before Adrasteia: Comedy, Philosophy and ‘One’s Own’ in Republic V Sonja Tanner
4. At Least They Had an Ethos: Comedy as the Only Possible Critique Richard A. Lee, Jr.
5. Absolute Knowing: Consternation and Preservation in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida Jennifer Ann Bates
6. Something Mechanical Encrusted on the Living or, "Que Signifie le Rire?" Richard Doyle
7. Humor, Law, and Jurisprudence: On Deleuze’s Political Philosophy Russell Ford
8. Go Bleep Yourself: Why Censorship is Funny Robert T. Valgenti
9. Quantum Andy: Andy Kaufman and the Postmodern Turn in Comedy H. Peter Steeves
10. Being Funny: Ontology is a Queer Subject (or, Tractatus Cucumber Saladicus) (a Zen Maoist Koan) Bill Martin