Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic by Henri Bergson
2014 Reprint of Original 1912 Edition. Exact facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. "Laughter" is a collection of three essays by French philosopher Henri Bergson, first published in 1900. In a short introduction, Bergson announces that he will try to define the comic, but he does not want to give a rigid definition of the word; he wants to deal with the comic as part of human life. His ambition is also to have a better knowledge of society, of the functioning of human imagination and of collective imagination, but also of art and life. Bergson begins to note three facts on the comic: 1] the comic is strictly a human phenomenon. A landscape cannot be a source of laughter, and when humans make fun of animals, it is often because they recognize some human behavior in them. Man is not only a being that can laugh, but also a being that is a source of laughter. 2] laughter requires an indifference, a detachment from sensibility and emotion: 3] it is more difficult to laugh when one is fully aware of the seriousness of a situation. It is difficult to laugh alone, it is easier to laugh collectively. One who is excluded from a group of people does not laugh with them, there is often a complicity in laughter. Thus the comic is not a mere pleasure of the intellect, it is a human and social activity, it has a social meaning.