Laughing at Nothing: Humor as a Response to Nihilism

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SUNY Press, Aug 28, 2003 - Philosophy - 209 pages
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Disputing the common misconception that nihilism is wholly negative and necessarily damaging to the human spirit, John Marmysz offers a clear and complete definition to argue that it is compatible, and indeed preferably responded to, with an attitude of good humor. He carefully scrutinizes the phenomenon of nihilism as it appears in the works, lives, and actions of key figures in the history of philosophy, literature, politics, and theology, including Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, and Mishima. While suggesting that there ultimately is no solution to the problem of nihilism, Marmysz proposes a way of utilizing the anxiety and despair that is associated with the problem as a spur toward liveliness, activity, and the celebration of life.
 

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Contents

German and Russian Nihilism
15
RUSSIAN NIHILISM
17
NIETZSCHEAN NIHILISM
21
THE CHRISTIAN THE ANARCHIST AND SOCRATES
22
APOLLO AND DIONYSUS
24
HEALTHY CULTURE AND THE WELLORDERED SOCIETY
27
ASCENT DECLINE AND THE ETERNAL RETURN OF THE SAME
30
HEIDEGGER AND NIETZSCHE
34
THE HISTORICAL COMPLICATION
74
PYRRHO STIRNER RORTY AND SKEPTICAL PRAGMATISM
78
Decline Decay and Falling Away
91
Ambition Aspiration and Ascent
105
Humor and Incongruity
123
JOKES
136
COMEDY
138
HUMOR
141

WorldWar and Postwar Nihilism
43
CAMUS AND THE EXISTENTIALISTS
46
YUKIO MISHIMA AND ASIAN NIHILISM
50
NIHILISM IN AMERICA
55
Nihilistic Incongruity
61
THE DESCRIPTIVE NORMATIVE AND FATALISTIC PREMISES OF NIHILISM
68
Humor as a Response to Nihilism
155
Postscript
167
Notes
173
Bibliography
195
Index
203
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About the author (2003)

John Marmysz teaches Philosophy at Corning Community College.

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