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Philosophy, art criticism and popular opinion all seem to treat the aesthetics of the comic as lightweight, while the tragic seems to be regarded with greater seriousness. Why this favouring of sadness over joy? Can it be justified? What are the criteria by which the significance of comedy can be estimated vis à vis tragedy? Questions such as these underlie the present selection of studies, which casts new light on the comic, the joyful and laughter itself. This challenge to the popular attitude strikes into new territory, relating such matters to the profundity with which we enjoy life and its role in the deployment of the Human Condition. In her Introduction Tymieniecka points out that the tragic and the comic might be complementary in their respective sense-bestowing modes as well as in their dynamic functions; they might both share in the primogenital function of promoting the self-individualising progress of human existence.
For the first time in philosophy, laughter, mirth, joy and the like are revealed as the modalities of the essential enjoyment of life, being brought to bear in an illumination of the human condition.
The Theme: The Rainbow of Enjoyment: From Elementary Laughter to the Swing of the Human Spirit. Part I: Celebrating Life. The Feast of Life, Joy, and Love: The Laughter and Smile of the Soul; M. Kronegger. The Merchant of Venice: A Triumph of Discrepancy and Mirth; J.D. Hubert. The Smile of the Mind: From Molière to Marivaux; C. Ruoff. Reveries of Well-Being in the Shih-p'in: From Psychology to Ontology; L. Sundararajan. Bergsonian Laughter in Bernard Shaw's Back to Methuselah; M. Horton. G. Cabrera Infante and Lewis Carroll: The Aesthetics of Laughter in Contemporary Latin-American Literature; N. Campi de Castro. Bracketing Theory in Leonardo's Five Grotesque Heads; P. Trutty-Coohill. Part II: Aesthetics of the Comic. Not Funny: Metaphor, Dream and Decapitation; R.K. Baum. Exploring Aesthetic Discomfort in the Experience of the Comic and the Tragic: John Marston's Antonio and Mellida and Antonio's Revenge; J.S. Smith. Cannon Aspirin: Wallace Stevens' Defense of Pleasure; P. Rae. The Comedy of the False Apperception: Wilde, Maugham, and Stoppard; R.J. Wilson III. Irony as Phenomenological Technique; M. Stafecka. Part III: The Circuits of Laughter. Philosophy, Literature, and Laughter: Notes on an Ontology of the Moment; L. Kimmel. Comic Rhythms in Leonardo da Vinci; P. Trutty-Coohill. Laughter and Enjoyment: La Fontaine and Fragonard; M.E. McCullough. Plastic Expression and Intuition of Being in Paul Tillich's Theology; V. Vevere. Part IV: Laughter and Aesthetic Enjoyment. Endgame: Beckett's Oriental Subtext and the Prison of Consciousness; J.B. Sipple. Language and Enjoyment – Heidegger andEliot; B. Prochaska. T.S. Eliot and Metaphysical Laughter: A Phenomenology of Reading; W.D. Melaney. Joyless Laughter – Sophocles – Hesse – Beckett; H.H. Rudnick. Part V: Creative Perspectives of Enjoyment. Inter-Relation Between Music and Literature and Between Silence and Music in the Novels by J.M.G. Le Clézio; I. Gillet. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Entr'Acte as Comedic Interlude; G. Costantini. Lu Xun's Allegory of Realism: Psychology and the Aims of Writing; Mao Chen. Naissance du Poème, Naissance au Poème: La fabrique du Pré de Francis Ponge; S. Meitinger. Index of Names.