Public lecture

Philosophical Friday: Mikołaj Sławkowski-Rode

03/22/2019 - 16:15 - 17:45

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You are all welcome to attend the next open philosophy seminar on Friday, 22 March. The speaker is Dr. Mikołaj Sławkowski-Rode (University of Warsaw/University of Oxford) and his lecture is entitled "Laughter and human nature".


Laughter is sometimes considered to be one of the distinguishing characteristics of human beings. Animals described as laughing can be seen as eerie or even disturbing, while this is not the case with animal curiosity, care or stubbornness for example. In humans the capacity to make someone laugh is a valued quality with most people listing having a sense of humour near the top of the desired partner’s traits. It seems surprising therefore that laughter has received little and mostly negative attention from philosophers. From Plato through Hobbes, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche philosophers have focused on scornful or mocking laughter, or laughter that overpowers people depriving them of their rational faculties. Even the 20 th century approaches which, seem to follow Aristotle in thinking that laughter might have beneficial social or psychological functions, also agree with him that this is achieved through expressing scorn. In this paper I will defend a positive view of laughter and suggest it is a way in which we can come to share another’s experience of the world.

More information: Liisi Keedus