Comic novelist and critic Paul McDonald explores the philosophy of humour in a book that will appeal to both philosophers and creative writers alike.Three formats: PDF, ePub and Mobi.
There are numerous competing theories of humour and laughter, and the absence of a single theory implies the importance of assessing them all.
One aim of this book is to do exactly that. It concentrates mainly on philosophical approaches to humour— including those of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Descartes, Hobbes, Bergson, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Freud and Bakhtin.
But the discussion explores other fields such as cultural studies, literary theory, religion, psychoanalysis, and psychology; this broad focus makes for a richer account of humour, its relationship with philosophical thought, and its bearing on the human condition. Humour is a creative activity, and another aim of the book is to address that aspect of humour. Throughout readers are invited to engage in creative writing exercises designed to exploit this crucial facet of humour, and to help them explore relevant issues imaginatively. In this way they will deepen their understanding of those issues, whilst at the same time cultivating their own creative skills. Thus the book will be of value both to people interested in the meaning of humour, and to those wishing to explore its creative possibilities.
About the author
Paul McDonald works at the University of Wolverhampton where he is Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Course Leader for Creative Writing. He is the author of twelve books, including three poetry collections and three comic novels. His criticism includes books on Philip Roth, the fiction of the Industrial Midlands, and Laughing at the Darkness: Postmodernism and American Humour (Humanities-Ebooks, 2011), available on this site. His research focuses largely on comedy, and he takes a perverse pleasure in the fact that Googling ‘the oldest joke in the world’ generates several hundred pages with his name on.
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Among the books that introduce the philosophy of humor to newcomers, The Philosophy of Humour, by comic novelist and teacher of creative writing Paul McDonald, stands out for its accessibility as well as for practice elements to keep readers mentally busy. The slim introduction covers all the topics that readers unfamiliar with the philosophy of humor need to know to navigate the field successfully: he addresses the evolutionary beginnings and functions of amusement and humor and canvasses traditional theories ranging from ancient Greek accounts of humor to Superiority Theory, Incongruity Theory and Relief Theory. The biggest advantage of The Philosophy of Humour over its peers is that it does not simply present positions but stimulates readers to think philosophically and creatively about them. -- Steffen Steinert, The Humorous Times, Summer 2014
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