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Laughing at the Limit: Humor and Philosophical Practice

Watch all the presentations from this conference here!

Title: The 6th Biennial Philosophy and Literature Graduate Conference at Purdue University

Theme: Laughing at the Limit: Humor and Philosophical Practice

Dates: March 28th-29th, 2014

Location: Lawson Hall B155

Lately humor has been enjoying a moment of philosophical interest.  The Lighthearted Philosophers’ Society was founded in 2006, for example, and philosophers from Simon Critchley and Bernard Freydberg to John Morreall and Daniel Dennett have all published books on humor or comedy since the turn of the century.  It would not be an overstatement, furthermore, to call this interest unprecedented.  While philosophers throughout the western tradition have addressed humor in various manners before, these treatments were most often marginal or asides in the course of other pursuits.  Recent discussion has agreed, broadly, that humor trades on incongruities and points, in some sense, to limits.  It has also agreed that humor is fully worthy of philosophical investigation and integral to a range of philosophical topics.  Ray Monk tells us that Wittgenstein, recognizing humor’s richness, once said, “A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”

In the spirit of this appreciation for humor’s centrality to philosophy, the Purdue Philosophy and Literature program proposes a conference to investigate humor’s relation to philosophy.  If philosophy is understood as a way of life, how might humor help articulate a philosophical ethos?  What role might humor have in the development of practices of the self? Or consider Gilles Deleuze’ claim that humor is transgressive by nature.  How can such transgressiveness reveal the limits of current practices, be they philosophical, literary, social, or political?  How can humor so understood point to new methods and new practices?

Keynote Speakers

Daniel Kelly, Purdue University

Victor Raskin, Purdue University

Bernard Freydberg, Duquesne University