6th Annual International Conference for the Centre for Phenomenology in South Africa: Philosophy and Laughter

Country: South Africa

City: Chintsa

Abstr. due: 31.03.2019

Dates: 13.06.19 — 14.06.19

Area Of Sciences: Philosophy; Cultural science;

Organizing comittee e-mail: ujphenomenology@gmail.com

Organizers: Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg, University of Fort Hare


Laughter has been a central concern in philosophy from Plato to Nietzsche and beyond. Plato was suspicious of the power and maliciousness of scorn and mockery and banned it from his ideal state. Nietzsche, Plato’s philosophical antipode, highlighted the levity and lightness of laughter in order to challenge the traditional image of philosophy, which attaches a seriousness to the pursuit of knowledge and an arresting gravity to truth. In between both Plato and Nietzsche, philosophers such as Hobbes, Kant, Bergson and Bataille have addressed laughter from various perspectives. Following Nietzsche in some ways, Bergson praised laughter as a pert challenge flung at philosophic speculation, and Bataille envisaged a mode of communication and of community, beyond language, modelled on the turbulence of laughter and tears. Freud also showed how humor and jokes have an intimate relation with the unconscious in that they give expression to forbidden and repressed thoughts.

What is the role of laughter, comedy, parody, and irony in philosophical writing, style, and argumentation? How have seriousness and lightness contributed toward the traditional images of philosophy and of art, respectively?  What is the relation between humor and the unconscious? What is the relation between irony and truth? Can laughter shake the foundations of the antithesis between ‘good and evil’, between the ‘true’ and the ‘apparent’ worlds? Is there something diabolical about laughter? Is laughter, rather than rationality, the distinguishing feature of the human being? Is laughter able to challenge oppressive regimes, or conversely, does it enforce social conformity and exclusivity?

The aim of this conference is to address some of these questions. Topics of the conference include but are not limited to the following:

  • The role of laughter, humor, comedy, parody, satire or irony in philosophy
  • Laughter and African Philosophy
  • Laughter and moral philosophy
  • Laughter and the political
  • Laughter and aesthetics
  • Laughter and the unconscious
  • Laughter and being human
  • Laughter, religion and theology

Conference Web-Site: https://saphenomenology.wordpress.com/