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Laughter, Humor, and Comedy in Ancient Philosophy - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Laughter, Humor, and Comedy in Ancient Philosophy

Pierre Destrée and Franco V. Trivigno


Ancient philosophers were very interested in the themes of laughter, humor, and comedy. They theorized about laughter and its causes, moralized about the appropriate uses of humor and what it is appropriate to laugh at, and wrote treatises on comedic composition. Further, they were often merciless in ridiculing their opponents’ positions, often borrowing comedic devices and techniques from comic poetry and drama to do so. The volume is organized around three themes or sets of questions. The first set concerns the psychology of laughter. What is going on in our minds when we laugh? What backgro ... More

Keywords: ancient philosophy, laughter, humor, comedy, ridicule, ethics, psychology

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780190460549
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190460549.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Pierre Destrée, editor
Associate Research Professor, Department of Philosophy, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Franco V. Trivigno, editor
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo

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Pierre Destrée and Franco V. Trivigno

Part I The Psychology of Laughter

Part II The Ethical and Social Significance of Laughter and Humor

5 Aristotle on Wittiness

Matthew D. Walker

Part III The Use of Humor and Comedy in Philosophical Discourse

8 Self-Ridicule

Paul B. Woodruff

9 Ridicule and Protreptic

Mary Margaret McCabe

13 Diogenes vs. Demonax

Inger N. I. Kuin

End Matter