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Laughter; an essay on the meaning of the comic

Bergson himself says that his final book, The Two Sources ofMorality and Religion, develops ideas from CreativeEvolution. It attempts to show that there are two sources fromwhich two kinds of morality and religion evolve. As always withBergson, Kant is at issue, in this case his moral philosophy. And asusual, Bergson starts by differentiating within a mixture. Under theword “morality” or under the phrase “moralobligation,” there is a mixture of two kinds of morality.

However, a fringe of intuition remains, dormant most of the time yetcapable of awakening when certain vital interests are at stake. Therole of the philosopher is to seize those rare and discontinuousintuitions in order to support them, then dilate them and connect themto one another. In this process, philosophy realizes that intuitioncoincides with spirit, and eventually with life itself. Intuition andintelligence thus each correspond to tendencies within the humanpsyche, which, as whole, thereby coincides immediately —if only partially — with the vital impulse. It is only by leapinginto intuition that the ultimate unity of mental life appears, for,just as Bergson showed against Zeno, that mobility cannot bereconstructed out of immobility. Here he explains that while one can gofrom intuition to intelligence by way of diminution, the analyticnature of intelligence precludes the opposite process. Thus Bergsonconcludes, “philosophy introduces us into spiritual life. And atthe same time, it shows us the relation of the life of spirit to thelife of the body” (Creative Evolution, p. 268). In aword, it is life in its creativity which unifies the simplicity ofspirit with the diversity of matter. And it is a certain kind ofphilosophy, insofar as it is able to place itself back within thecreative impulse, which is capable of realizing the necessary“complementarity” of the diverse, partial viewsinstantiated in the different branches of scientific knowledge andmetaphysical thought — so as to reestablish the absoluteness ofknowledge, defined by its coincidence with absolute becoming.

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Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic

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His first scholarly publication was in 1886, in the RevuePhilosophique; “On Unconscious Simulation in States ofHypnosis” concerns the results of his observations at sessions ofhypnosis. Notice that Freud and Breuer's Studies on Hysteriadid not appear until 1896. This foreshadowed Bergson's growing interestin the role of unconscious memories within recognition—aninterest that culminates in his being elected president of the Londonbased Society for Psychical Research in 1913. In 1888, Bergsonsubmitted two doctoral theses in Paris: Essai sur les donnéesimmédiates de la conscience, published as a book (Time andFree Will) in 1889; and the then required Latin thesis, QuidAristoteles de loco senserit (Aristotle's Conception ofPlace). In 1927, in a footnote to Being and Time,Heidegger cited this second thesis, claiming that Bergson's view oftime remains within the horizon of Greek metaphysics.

During the second half of the Twenties, Bergson suffered from severearthritis, which eventually forced him to retire from public life. In1928, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Finally, in 1932,he surprised everyone with the publication of his last major book,The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, which gave rise torenewed debates and misunderstandings about his philosophy and hisreligious orientation. The final collection of his essays, TheCreative Mind, appeared in 1934.

Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic - …

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4 by Henri Bergson; Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic by Henri Bergson.

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Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic - I (by …


The complete text of Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic

Bergson wrote Laughter An Essay on the Meaning of Comic in Bergson wants to analyze and understand the things that make us laugh in order to find

Availability for Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic.

As we already noted, Bergson's thought must be seen as an attempt toovercome Kant. In Bergson's eyes, Kant's philosophy is scandalous,since it eliminates the possibility of absolute knowledge and miresmetaphysics in antinomies. Bergson's own method of intuition issupposed to restore the possibility of absolute knowledge – hereone should see a kinship between Bergsonian intuition and what Kantcalls intellectual intuition – and metaphysics. To do this,intuition in Bergson's sense must place us above the divisions of thedifferent schools of philosophy like rationalism and empiricism oridealism and realism. Philosophy, for Bergson, does not consist inchoosing between concepts and in taking sides (The CreativeMind, p. 175–76). These antinomies of concepts and positions,according to him, result from the normal or habitual way ourintelligence works. Here we find Bergson's connection to Americanpragmatism. The normal way our intelligence works is guided by needsand thus the knowledge it gathers is not disinterested; it is relativeknowledge. And how it gathers knowledge is through what Bergson calls“analysis,” that is, the dividing of things according toperspectives taken. Comprehensive analytic knowledge then consists inreconstruction or re-composition of a thing by means of synthesizingthe perspectives. This synthesis, while helping us satisfy needs, nevergives us the thing itself; it only gives us a general concept ofthings. Thus, intuition reverses the normal working of intelligence,which is interested and analytic (synthesis being only a development ofanalysis). In the fourth chapter to Matter and Memory, Bergsoncalls this reversal of habitual intelligence “the turn ofexperience” where experience becomes concerned with utility,where it becomes human experience (Matter and Memory, pp.184–85). Thisplacement of oneself up above the turn is not easy; above all else,Bergson appreciates effort.

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This complete text of “Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic” by Henri Bergsonis in the public domain.

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Henri Bergson (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

There is the closed morality, whose religion is static, and there isthe open morality, whose religion is dynamic. Closed morality andstatic religion are concerned with social cohesion. Nature has madecertain species evolve in such a way that the individuals in thesespecies cannot exist on their own. They are fragile and require thesupport of a community. One quickly thinks of bees, and Bergson, ofcourse, refers to them. We can see again that there are bodily needswhich must be satisfied. The force of these needs is the source of theclosed morality. Because of these needs, there is a rigidity to therules of closed moralities. Kant's moral philosophy has itssource in such needs. The survival of the community requires that therebe strict obedience: the categorical imperative. Yet, although Kant'scategorical imperative is supposed to be universal, it is not,according to Bergson. It is limited and particular. Closed moralityreally concerns the survival of a society, my society. Therefore, italways excludes other societies. Indeed, for Bergson, closed moralityis always concerned with war. And static religion, the religion ofclosed morality, is based on what Bergson calls the “fabulationfunction.” The fabulation function is a particular function ofthe imagination that creates “voluntary hallucinations.”The fabulation function takes our sense that there is a presencewatching over us and invents images of gods. These images then insurestrict obedience to the closed morality. In short, they insure socialcohesion.

Term paper on wto - Bergson essay on the meaning of the comic

There are numerous reasons for Bergson's disappearance from thephilosophical scene after World War II. First, at least in France, anew generation of philosophers was arising, in particular, Sartre andMerleau-Ponty. Like any new generation, this one had to differentiateitself from the tradition it was inheriting; in many respects,Bergson's thought dominated this tradition. But more important was thefact that Sartre and Merleau-Ponty became interested in Husserlianphenomenology, and then in Heidegger's thought. The influence of Germanphilosophy on post-World War II French thought is well known. Itcontributed to the eclipse of Bergson. But, there are some aspects ofBergson's thought itself which contributed to this eclipse. On the onehand, there is Bergson's constant suspicion of language; for Bergson,as we noted in the discussion of intuition, language is equivalent tosymbols. And, symbols divide the continuity of the duration, leading usinto illusions. Bergson's criticisms of language, moreover, must havestruck the generation of French philosophers who came of age in the1960's as strange. Philosophers such as Derrida had so thoroughlyembraced Heidegger that they believed that “language is the houseof being.” On the other hand, there is the mysticism of TheTwo Sources. The striking religious tone of this book did notharmonize well with Husserl's phenomenology, which aimed to be arigorous science.

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