Angelaki 21 (3):13-26 (2016)

Michael Naas
DePaul University
This essay examines the critical role played by comedy and laughter in Plato. It begins by taking seriously Plato's critique of comedy and his concerns about the negative effects of laughter in dialogues such as Republic and Laws. It then shows how Plato, rather than simply rejecting comedy and censuring laughter, attempts to put these into the service of philosophy by rethinking them in philosophical terms. Accordingly, the laughable or the ridiculous is understood not just in relation to the ugly or the ignoble, as it is in Homer, but in relation of blindness, ignorance, and falsity. By taking up such a philosophical perspective, one can then distinguish what truly is laughable from what merely appears so. It is in this way that Plato is able to explain why Socrates appeared so ridiculous to the multitude but was known to be anything but to those who were able to see him with philosophical eyes, that is, those who were able to attend to what I call the spectacle of laughter. The paper concludes...
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DOI 10.1080/0969725X.2016.1205253
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