Animality and laughter Contributions to a theory at the borders of philosophical discourse (Plato, Nietzsche, Bataille)

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Description: This dissertation is an analysis of the themes of animality and laughter as structures for the reading of texts in the history of philosophy. Plato's Phaedo , Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra , and texts by Bataille serve as examples. The themes of animality and laughter are contextual predispositions, engrained bodily attitudes of preference and aversion, intensifying the juxtaposition of restless curiosity and the unknown that motivate philosophical wonderment and thinking. Animality and laughter, in "traffic with the earthly" (Nietzsche, AC § 14) and "the very pulp of the sensible" (Merleau-Ponty 1968, 268), intensify the dialogue that one may experience with a text. This is the central importance of the themes for philosophy. Laughter is part and parcel of human knowledge and an expression of a bodily epistemology, operating as a facilitator to the questions of knowing. Animality is the teeming of forms of life within contextual structures where meaning moves beyond the mere reduction of things said to a certainty that is coherent, effective, and corporeal. Animality and laughter are structural and sensual dispositions, with an ear and eye for incongruity, a body for coherent mobility allowing expansiveness, and a lifting of inhibitions and a touch of playfulness. A critical part of the dissertation establishes the discussion of the themes through the concepts of play, proliferation and contagion, tools that grapple with the disruption of language and the boundaries of rationality. Play, a space where incompleteness receives temporary form, is to body awareness what proliferation is to theories, suspending closure, and using mutated and attractive features to heighten responses. Contagion is the re-formation of a host body beyond its conscious control. In the Phaedo , animality and laughter are a measure and rhythm of the contextual labyrinth, markers for the often neglected figures of Aesop and Asclepius. Animality and laughter refocus the dialogue in line with Socrates' calls for a participation in life. ( Phd. 115b, see 70d). In Thus Spoke Zarathustra the themes promise transformative, affirmative and critical paths through more abusive categories, moving towards what Nietzsche envisioned as the metamorphosis (or theriomorphosis) into the "splendid animal," the "delicate difference of the incarnate ideal" ( HA , Book Two, § 99). In Bataille laughter and animality separate the known and unknown, revealing an intimacy that erodes the "world of utility" and project. This step in transgression is the retreat of language and loss of sovereignty in the face of an over-brimming life of immanence.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work