Meditation on humor

Breathe in. Think of the ridiculousness of life, the absurdity of existence, mortal or otherwise, the laughable preoccupations of breathing animals, the inane schemes devised by homo sapiens to cope with all that, and finally the splendid endeavour to derive from it the source of mere funnyness. We are asking if humor is our best chance of making sense of the world.

Is humor indispensible? Let us first observe humor depends on context. A mere pun or an isolated witty remark is not yet humor. It gets funny against the background of the context, which is alwags a power relation involving an implicit or explicit prohibition of the joke. Humor is a way to free oneself for a moment from a stronger power, because our laughing is beyond its control – and the more they try to impose their control, the funnier it gets.

Famous jokes about communism (coffee without cream rather than without milk because we ran out of milk) expose the system by demonstrating it is susceptible to jokes. It is no longer impenetrable and the ironic jomes about the system are ‘more ultimate’ than the system itself. No Red Book can compete with a good round of jokes.

Smile. I wanted to write a metaphysical account of humor and how the ironic distance allows us to share something universal because it makes visible the inadequacy of the internal rules of what we observe. I decided against it, because I haven’t thought it true. And perhaps is humor the very thing we don’t need a theory of.

Meditation on humor was originally published on Meandering home

Is truth=beauty is true?

We all know people who occasionally proclaim that truth is beauty. But have you ever shared a table with somebody who made the statement in such a convincing way, that you felt that their whole existence was breathing this truth? I did, last week.
I met a stage designer somewhere in Amsterdam, and there he said it. I instantly believed what he said and nibbled on my cookie while nodding my approval. Later that day, cooled down by a bout of Dutch rain, I felt I had to somehow reproduce the philosophical underpinning I have for it. Strolling alongside the pretty canals, crossing wonderful wooden drawbridges, and looking at the reflections of the slanted facades in the last remaining mirrors of ice, I attempted to think about the subject.
The concept of Truth, when extended beyond the purely functional “what is the case” (under certain circumstances), is a concept vague enough to keep many philosophers busy for the next couple of centuries. But that’s no reason to shrug. Let’s deal our cards:

1. Truth under NO circumstances – mathematical, logical truths, tautologies (eg. Pi is not a rational number)
2. Truth under SOME circumstances – everyday truths, scientific knowledge (eg. Jupiter is larger than Neptune)
3. Truth under ALL circumstances – ultimate Truths (eg. religious truths)

I write “NO” circumstances (or context) in the first case, because these truths don’t depend on any context. Of course they hold, but since that fact is not influenced by the context, it doesn’t help distinguishing between contexts. 2+2=4 on Mars or among microbes. We would say it doesn’t tell any aspect of the “truth” about Mars or microbes. Truths in the second sense, that hold under “SOME” circumstances, do help us tell some aspect of the “truth” about planets, animals, humans, or words, colors, smells. Intuitively, what religious truth means is some kind of generalisation of this second kind of truth, a truth that tells us ALL aspects of everything, and tells it apart. Truth in that third sense is a perfect categorization or taxonomy of everything we dare talk about.

That concept can only be approximated, as we are thrown into Being and possess only eyes here, on the inside. Such approximations (without calling them so) have been attempted by religion since the early rise of human culture (eg. the Gilgamesh). The optimal approximation would be as close as we could get to the Truth (insofar as that should remain meaningful as an absolute concept) and how do we get to such an approximation? How do we make a “move” that is at the same time a generalization of our experience and yet dependent on it. This move, I think, should be described as aesthetic. It holds the uniqueness of an experience (because beauty is what strikes us and inspires us) while generalizing at the same time as we identify it as beauty (the painful comparison to known beauty and past experiences). The aesthetic experience thus qualifies as a candidate for the kind of approximation of truths of the third category.

Some say that you can’t do such wild thinking without soon arriving at some Hegelian phrase. Here is ours: (truth in art, like truth in general, requires the harmony of an inner and outer, of concept and reality. (Aesthetics Vol I, p. 343, translated by T.M. Knox)

So yes, affirmative, truth=beauty, our sense of beauty is the organ can perceive the most meaningful truths.

Is truth=beauty is true?

Source Wikipedia

We all know people who occasionally proclaim that truth is beauty. But have you ever shared a table with somebody who made the statement in such a convincing way, that you felt that their whole existence was breathing this truth? I did, last week.
I met a stage designer somewhere in Amsterdam, and there he said it. I instantly believed what he said and nibbled on my cookie while nodding my approval. Later that day, cooled down by a bout of Dutch rain, I felt I had to somehow reproduce the philosophical underpinning I have for it. Strolling alongside the pretty canals, crossing wonderful wooden drawbridges, and looking at the reflections of the slanted facades in the last remaining mirrors of ice, I attempted to think about the subject.
The concept of Truth, when extended beyond the purely functional “what is the case” (under certain circumstances), is a concept vague enough to keep many philosophers busy for the next couple of centuries. But that’s no reason to shrug. Let’s deal our cards:

1. Truth under NO circumstances – mathematical, logical truths, tautologies (eg. Pi is not a rational number)
2. Truth under SOME circumstances – everyday truths, scientific knowledge (eg. Jupiter is larger than Neptune)
3. Truth under ALL circumstances – ultimate Truths (eg. religious truths)

I write “NO” circumstances (or context) in the first case, because these truths don’t depend on any context. Of course they hold, but since that fact is not influenced by the context, it doesn’t help distinguishing between contexts. 2+2=4 on Mars or among microbes. We would say it doesn’t tell any aspect of the “truth” about Mars or microbes. Truths in the second sense, that hold under “SOME” circumstances, do help us tell some aspect of the “truth” about planets, animals, humans, or words, colors, smells. Intuitively, what religious truth means is some kind of generalisation of this second kind of truth, a truth that tells us ALL aspects of everything, and tells it apart. Truth in that third sense is a perfect categorization or taxonomy of everything we dare talk about.
That concept can only be approximated, as we are thrown into Being and possess only eyes here, on the inside. Such approximations (without calling them so) have been attempted by religion since the early rise of human culture (eg. the Gilgamesh). The optimal approximation would be as close as we could get to the Truth (insofar as that should remain meaningful as an absolute concept) and how do we get to such an approximation? How do we make a “move” that is at the same time a generalization of our experience and yet dependent on it. This move, I think, should be described as aesthetic. It holds the uniqueness of an experience (because beauty is what strikes us and inspires us) while generalizing at the same time as we identify it as beauty (the painful comparison to known beauty and past experiences). The aesthetic experience thus qualifies as a candidate for the kind of approximation of truths of the third category.

Some say that you can’t do such wild thinking without soon arriving at some Hegelian phrase. Here is ours: (truth in art, like truth in general, requires the harmony of an inner and outer, of concept and reality. (Aesthetics Vol I, p. 343, translated by T.M. Knox)

So yes, affirmative, truth=beauty, our sense of beauty is the organ can perceive the most meaningful truths.

Is truth=beauty is true? was originally published on Meandering home