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Laughing Matters: The Unstoppable Rise Of The Comic Perspective

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Chapter Summary

This chapter defends a thesis: although man, by his constitution, is a tragicomic being and can consequently never entirely shake off the tragic dimension of his existence, in our postmodern society the comic perspective has largely superseded the tragic. It considers how, in the course of the eighteenth century, a change of aesthetic perspective occurred in relation to the appreciation of tragedy and comedy. Then the chapter discusses the modern theory of the comic as an incongruence or contradiction, as developed by G.W.F. Hegel and Søren Kierkegaard among others. It demonstrates how the comic perspective has come to occupy a dominant position in postmodern society. Finally, the chapter discusses the role that humor might fulfill in that society as a ?balance between the comic and the tragic?. In humor, one never laughs only at the other, but also at oneself. He who laughs is at once the object of laughter.

Keywords: comic perspective; G.W.F. Hegel; laughter; postmodern society; Søren Kierkegaard; tragedy



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