Dark humour in dark times: The sustaining virtue of laughterMark Alfano (Delft University of Technology, Australian Catholic University)
Christ Lecture Theatre
ACU Melbourne Campus, 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy
In this talk, Professor Alfano (Delft University of Technology and Australian Catholic University) explores the moral significance and value of humour and laughter, including - and perhaps especially - during dark and difficult circumstances. A sense of humour, he argues, governs both contempt and hope. Laughter is thus a way of rising above the object of one's contempt, whether that object is a medical condition, a tyrant, or unworthy aspects of oneself. While maintaining a sense of humour enables people to deal psychologically with their troubles and sorrows, there is also a deeper moral significance to humour that points the way to a future in which our contemporary troubles are regarded from "above" and "at a distance". Surveying ourselves from this perspective, even if we recognise that it's a perspective that we will never occupy, can lend us hope and the resolve to work towards that future. Alfano concludes by connecting these themes with Simone Weil's idea that ethics is grounded in basic human needs. He argues that, among our other needs, we require a sense of our innermost selves as both immune to the most dire assaults and capable of accomplishing something valuable on this earth. The contempt expressed and the hope afforded by a sense of humour answer, respectively, to these needs.
July 15, 2018, 9:00am +10:00
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