Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic by Henri Bergson …

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English translations of Bergson’s writings include Laughter, An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, trans. C. Brereton and F, Rothwell (New York, 1910); Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness, trans. F. L. Podgson (New York, 1910); Creative Evolution, trans. A. Mitchell (New York, 1911); Matter and Memory, trans. N. M. Paul and W. S. Palmer (New York, 1911); Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. T. E. Hulme (New York, 1914, 1949); Mind-Energy, trans. H. W. Carr (New York, 1920); The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, trans. R. A. Audra and C. Brereton (New York, 1935); and The Creative Mind, trans. M. L. Andison (New York, 1946).

This complete text of “Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic” by Henri Bergsonis in the public domain.

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Among Bergson’s minor works are Le Rire: essai sur la significance du comique (1900; Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic) and, Introduction à la metaphysique (1903; ). The latter provides perhaps the best introduction to his philosophy by offering the clearest account of his method. There are two profoundly different ways of knowing, he claimed. The one, which reaches its furthest development in science, is , spatializing, and conceptualizing, tending to see things as solid and discontinuous. The is an that is global, immediate, reaching into the heart of a thing by sympathy. The first is useful for getting things done, for acting on the world, but it fails to reach the essential reality of things precisely because it leaves out duration and its perpetual flux, which is inexpressible and to be grasped only by intuition. Bergson’s entire work may be considered as an extended exploration of the and of his intuition of duration as the innermost reality of everything.

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At the first , held in Paris during the first five days of August 1900, Bergson read a short, but important, paper, "Psychological Origins of the Belief in the Law of Causality" (). In 1900 published a work which had previously appeared in the , entitled (), one of the most important of Bergson's minor productions. This essay on the meaning of comedy stemmed from a lecture which he had given in his early days in the Auvergne. The study of it is essential to an understanding of Bergson's views of life, and its passages dealing with the place of the artistic in life are valuable. The main thesis of the work is that is a corrective evolved to make social life possible for human beings. We laugh at people who fail to adapt to the demands of society if it seems their failure is akin to an inflexible mechanism. Comic authors have exploited this human tendency to laugh in various ways, and what is common to them is the idea that the comic consists in there being "something mechanical encrusted on the living".

Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic by Henri Bergson

I can't help but wonder our current obsession with defining life in terms of computers will one day seem just as silly as Bergon's obsession with defining it in terms of mechanical scripts. He overapplies this analogy to an absurd degree. In fact, under Bergson's own theory, Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic is rather humourous in terms of it's adherence to a system in situations where it doesn't apply.

("Laughter, an essay on the meaning of the comic ..

"Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic" is Henri Bergson’s treatise on comedy

I can't help but wonder our current obsession with defining life in terms of computers will one day seem just as silly as Bergon's obsession with defining it in terms of mechanical scripts. He overapplies this analogy to an absurd degree. In fact, under Bergson's own theory, Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic is rather humourous in terms of it's adherence to a system in situations where it doesn't apply.

Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic - …

This complete text of “Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic” by Henri Bergsonis in the public domain.

This page has been created by .
Page last updated on April 2003..
.


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Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic
By Henri Bergson, member of the Institute Professor at the College de France
Authorised Translation by Cloudesley Brereton L. es L. (Paris), M.A. (Cantab) and Fred Rothwell b.a. (London)