Philosophy of Humour: New Perspectives

February 11, 2021 - February 12, 2021

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Vytautas Magnus University
Universidad Diego Portales

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Humour has traditionally been of marginal interest throughout the history of philosophy. Although a good number of authors (including Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Kant, Schopenhauer, Bergson and Freud) have commented on what makes us laugh and why, it has never received the attention of other topics. This changed somewhat in the 1980s, particularly through the work of John Morreall, who not only collated the various accounts of humour and laughter throughout the history of ideas, but also explicated the three main theories – the Superiority Theory, the Incongruity Theory, and the Relief Theory – as well as providing his own take.

This conference aims to advance on existing research and theories by looking at the issue afresh. This is because, as comedians like Dave Chappelle, Hannah Gadsby, Ali Wong and others show, humour is constantly evolving, as well as the fact that what makes us laugh varies enormously depending on the personal and social situation, as well as the culture – and yet humour is a universal human trait that is central to our lives and existence, all the way from bringing people together, to the other extreme of stigmatizing, marginalizing and abusing certain groups. Much more work, research and new ideas are thus needed if we are to further understand this crucial and incredibly intricate subdomain in philosophical anthropology.

The aim was to have the conference fully in person. However, given the ongoing pandemic, it is increasingly likely the conference will move at least partially online.

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