Laughter by Henri Bergson

Book Review : Laughter

By Henri Bergson

  • Publication Date: 2013-04-13
  • Genre: Philosophy

Book Review

Collection of three essays first published in 1900.
In «Laughter», Bergson develops a theory not of laughter itself, but of how laughter can be provoked. He describes the process of laughter (refusing to give a conceptual definition which would not approach its reality), used in particular by comics and clowns, as the caricature of the mechanism nature of humans (habits, automatic acts, etc.), one of the two tendencies of life (degradation towards inert matter and mechanism, and continual creation of new forms). However, Bergson warns us that laughter’s criterion of what should be laughed at is not a moral criterion and that it can in fact cause serious damage to a person’s self-esteem. This essay made his opposition to the Cartesian theory of the animal-machine obvious.

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