Derisive Realism: Towards a Realist Foundation of Humour

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2016-06-20
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Philosophie
Advisor: Hotz-Davies, Ingrid (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2015-11-03
DDC Classifikation: 100 - Philosophy
Keywords: Humor , Lachen , Spott
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The dissertation, Derisive Realism: Towards a realist foundation for Humour addresses the obstacles as well as the possibilities of thinking of humour highlighted in the contemporary theories of humour and wit. This study aims to provide a definition of humour which embraces not only human words (as in wit and jokes) but also human deeds in its materiality. An attempt from the epistemology of humour to an ontology of humour is made which oscillates between human willing of humour to humour abducting, capturing and choosing human. The present research does not claim to have found an alternative definition for linguistic wit and jokes as offered already in Superiority Theory, Relief Theory and Incongruity Theory. Rather it demonstrates that humour itself depicts a realism for human subjects that has been eclipsed by the prevailing epidemiology of humour. It is argued that if human usage of humour, as these three theories of humour roughly demonstrate, is based on a subjective and determined act whether to relieve some suppressed energy (Relief Theory of Spencer and Freud), or to imply one’s supremacy upon the other (Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes) or an inconsistency in meaning (Locke, Hutchenson, Kant), humour itself has an indifferent pre-human sense that can dispense (if not exclude) subjective and calculable gestures, it can take place contingently and treat subjects in an inevitable and ubiquitous mode. However, it is argued that despite its apparent indifference, humour provides subjects with a major criterion: either subjects open themselves to it and participate in the joy, smirk, grin served by it, or they will serve as a material for the production of humour to entertain others. Using the ideas of Leibniz, Gabriel Tarde and Gilles Deleuze and applying it to theories of humour offered by German Romantic writer Jean Paul and more modern and contemporary philosophers of laughter and humour such as Henri Bergson and Georges Bataille a mimetic framework for such acceptance/denial of humour has been presented which, in the light of the consequent human derision makes one rethink the ethical and ontological facets of living with humour. Therefore, it does not suffice to claim (as common among postmodernists) that humour unsettles knowledge and subjectivity or belittles human presence in various grand narratives; a hypothesis that thinks of humour utterly based on human will and intention evacuated from contingency. On the contrary, derisive realism is a thought that by prioritising humour claims that humour in its contingency is implied in human condition and its relational materialism is not simply steered by the subjective intention. Humour intervenes contingently, and the subjects unprepared for it are to be derided. Such derision is shown against the background of Bergson’s emphasis on inertia inherent in laughter as well as Georges Bataille’s conception of laughter as the moment of suspension. Nevertheless, for this to be defined and settled in a materialistic sense, it is required to extend the Bergsonian and Bataillian frameworks to an immanence which pictures the force of this laughter. It stresses the significance of such relation between the subjects taking part in laughter to demonstrate that rejecting humour in the hope of keeping a rigid and serious stance refers such subjects inevitably back to human humiliation. Thus what is being scrutinised and criticized in this study is the overwhelming presence of linguistic humour which leaves no room for a realist and mimetic model that regards humour in such inhuman entirety. Through Beckett's Watt a laughter over such linguistic laughter is presented and elaborated which is then reconciled with an affective mode of laughter in Christine Brooke-Rose's Life, End of. Such an affective conception of humour paves the way for a mimetics of humour which commences with the pragmatic humour of the holy fools. The holy fools as persona for a realist humour repeat their humour in order to permeate the rigid and solidified discourse of knowledge and morality. But any exclusion or absence of the holy fools makes another repetition possible which although looks witty and amusing leads to a relational derision of subjects as depicted in Super Sad True Love Story.

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