Det det sjoves normativitet i Alenka Zupancic' komedieteori & Simon Critchleys humorteori

Kristoffer Schønnemann Andersen

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This thesis discusses two philosophical theories about the concept of fun; the Slovenian philosopher Alenka Zupančič’ (b. 1966) theory of comedy and the English philosopher Simon Critchley’s (b. 1960) theory of humour.
None of these theories are just about what that is funny or why we find something funny. With Critchley’s notion of humour and Zupančič’ notion of comedy, they each formulate a theory about what they believe is the most authentic and normatively best sort of fun. For Critchley, the distinction between real and good humour and problematic sorts of fun is the distinction between Laughing at Oneself and Laughing at Others. Zupančič sees the distinction as invalid, as she believes that laughing at one self, can be part of a problematic ideological submission. Zupančič’ purpose is to formulate a theory that encapsulates the truly subversive edge of comedy. These two different normative fun-ideals are the main focal point for the discussions in this thesis.
It is argued that Critchley ends with an individualistic and therapeutic humour ideal, even though he also ascribes the humour liberating qualities in a societal context. On the other hand, it is argued that critique of ideology is a foundation for Zupančič comedy theory. As part of this argument, philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s (b. 1949) notion of ideology is used. Žižek is along with Zupančič is part of the school of thought know as Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis is a main inspiration for both Critchley and Zupančič. Critchley is especially inspired by Sigmund Freud’s (1856-1939) essay “Humour” (1984 [1927]), while Zupančič’ theory is anchored in Jacques Lacan’s (1901-1981) psychoanalytical theory. These two different uses of psychoanalysis are also a focal point for the discussions in this thesis, and it is concluded that Critchley’s reading of Freud is therapeutically oriented, and thus part of his individualism, while Zupančič’ use of Lacan, and especially his notion of the symbolic, is central for her society-oriented and ideology critical approach to comedy.
Henri Bergson’s (1859-1941) theory on laughter and comedy (1963 [1900]) is also introduced and discussed, as this theory is an inspiration and a point of critique for both Zupančič and Critchley. Bergson defines the comical as something mechanical encrusted on something living, and in his philosophy the mechanical and the living is a foundational duality. Both Critchley’s and Zupančič’ critique of Bergson leads to a replacement of Bergson’s duality. For Critchley, the body vs. soul-duality is seen as the basic duality for both the human and the humour, while Zupančič defines the human condition, as that the overlap of the natural and the cultural, a duality which for her is also the heart of the comedy. It is argued that the fact that Critchley defines humanity by two poles that are both found in the single individual is part of his individualism, while Zupančič determination of the cultural as a pole in the human duality is part of her society-oriented approach.
The final part of the thesis, the discussed theories are used as a theoretical foundation in a series of analysis of the transgressive, sexist, and racist “fun” that is taking place in the forums on the websites 4chan and Reddit. Based on the analysis it is concluded that Critchley’s Laughing at Oneself vs. Laughing at Others- distinction to a certain extent is suitable as prism for understanding and criticizing the “fun” on these websites. But I do also find elements of self-irony and Laughing at Oneself, which can be seen as part of a problematic ideological submission, and I therefore conclude that Zupančič to a certain extend is right in her critique of this distinction.

UddannelserFilosofi og Videnskabsteori, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato3 nov. 2018
Antal sider80
VejledereEsther Oluffa Pedersen


  • Humor
  • Komedie
  • Komik
  • Sjov
  • Psykoanalyse
  • Freud
  • Lacan
  • Zupancic
  • Critchley
  • Zizek
  • Latter
  • Bergson
  • Ideologikritik