Humor as an Optics: Bergson and the Ethics of Humor

Hypatia 28 (3):618-632 (2013)
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Abstract

Although the ethics of humor is a relatively new field, it already seems to have achieved a consensus about ethics in general. In this paper, I implicitly (1) question the view of ethics that stands behind many discussions in the ethics of humor; I do this by explicitly (2) focusing on what has been a chief preoccupation in the ethics of humor: the evaluation of humor. Does the immoral content of a joke make it more or less humorous? Specifically, I analyze whether a sexist joke is more humorous because of its sexism. Contra recent trends in the ethics of humor, I answer this question affirmatively. To this end, the paper presents a detailed and novel reading of Bergson's philosophy of humor, which I argue connects most easily and significantly to the alternate view of ethics I have in mind

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Martin Shuster
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Citations of this work

In Defense of Comic Pluralism.Nathaniel Sharadin - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (2):375-392.

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References found in this work

Ethics and the limits of philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Totality and infinity: an essay on exteriority.Emmanuel Levinas - 1961 - Hingham, MA: distribution for the U.S. and Canada, Kluwer Boston.
Moral reasons.Jonathan Dancy - 1993 - Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell.

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