Philosophy, Humor, and the Human Condition

Taking Ridicule Seriously

  • Lydia Amir

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Lydia Amir
    Pages 1-40
  3. Lydia Amir
    Pages 41-66
  4. Lydia Amir
    Pages 67-95
  5. Lydia Amir
    Pages 97-117
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 235-305

About this book


A well-researched, well-argued book […] that exposes the underlying tension at the heart of the human condition and how we are to deal with it […] the ultimate working out of a view of a prominent philosopher in the field whose work is careful, thoughtful, and rigorous […] a book that will be on many bookshelves for generations.

Steven Gimbel, Edwin T. Johnson and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Distinguished Teaching Chair in the Humanities, Gettysburg College, USA. 

This book presents an original worldview, Homo risibilis, wherein self-referential humor is proposed as the path leading from a tragic view of life to a liberating embrace of human ridicule. Humor is presented as a conceptual tool for holding together contradictions and managing the unresolvable conflict of the human condition till Homo risibilis resolves the inherent tension without epistemological cost. This original approach to the human condition allows us to effectively address life’s ambiguities without losing sight of its tragic overtones and brings along far-ranging personal and social benefits.

By defining the problem that other philosophies and many religions attempt to solve in terms we can all relate to, Homo risibilis enables an understanding of the Other that surpasses mere tolerance. Its egalitarian vision roots an ethic of compassion without requiring metaphysical or religious assumptions and liberates the individual for action on others’ behalf. It offers a new model of rationality which effectively handles and eventually resolves the tension between oneself, others, and the world at large.

Amir’s view of the human condition transcends the field of philosophy of humor. An original worldview that fits the requirements of traditional philosophy, Homo risibilis is especially apt to answer contemporary concerns. It embodies the minimal consensus we need in order to live together and the active role philosophy should responsibly play in a global world. Here developed for the first time in a complete way, the Homo risibilis worldview is not only liberating in nature, but also illuminates the shortcomings of other philosophies in their attempts to secure harmony in a disharmonious world for a disharmonious human being.


Tragedy Comedy Self-knowledge Ethics Aesthetics

Authors and affiliations

  • Lydia Amir
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-32670-8
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-32671-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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