Socrates himself found humor so irresistible that he couldn’t resist making jokes about his prosecutors and about his Athenian jurors, when he was on trial for his life — thus getting himself into even more hot water!
That observation launched a laugh-filled — but at times sharply philosophical colloquy — about humor, at the Socratic Conversation conducted by Ron Gross on September 6th.
Among other thinkers who were cited by the participants were Democritus, of whom it was said that “he made of his laughter a complete conception of the world”; Nietzche who declared that “It is man alone who laughs; he alone suffer so deeply that he hand to invent laughter.”; Henri Bergson, who contended that “Laughter is the corrective force which prevents us from becoming cranks.”; and Quincy Jones, who proclaimed: “I’ve always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul, saying “Ain’t that the TRUTH!”.
Participants addressed five questions:
1. What makes you laugh, and why?
2. Do you have a favorite comic writer, performer, TV show, or other experience? (New Yorker cartoons, Jon Stewart, Louie CK, Woody Allen, Guys and Dolls. Seinfeld, or….)
3. Is your sense of humor different from other peoples’?
4. Do you find some current humor objectionable, “politically incorrect,” or just not funny? (e.g, jokes about women drivers, people with disabilities, minorities, the elderly, immigrants, gay people, “rednecks”, or….)?
Join us for the next Socratic Conversation, Are Americans Becoming Too Selfish?, on September 27th, 4-5 pm, Second Floor Salon, inspired by the book The Good Life: The Moral Individual in an Anti-Moral World, by Cheryl Mendelson. (Professor Mendelson will speak the University Seminar on Innovation in Education, at the Library on Monday evening, Oct. 15th, at 7 pm.