On Humour is a fascinating, beautifully written and funny book on what humour can tell us about being human. Simon Critchley skilfully probes some of the most perennial but least understood aspects of humour: why is that we mock death with laughter? If humour is uniquely human, why do we laugh at animals so much? Is joking a private matter, or do we share humour? Throughout, On Humour uses arresting examples from antiquity to modernity and from laughing at our bodies to the darker side of humour in racism and sexism. Critchley also draws on writers who have used humour, including Swift, Sterne, Bergson, Beckett and Freud, turning the comical inside out to reveal some delectable insights about what we find funny. Above all, he reveals that the humanity of humour is in being able to laugh at oneself.
Simon Critchley is Professor of Philosophy and Director for the Centre of Theoretical Studies at the University of Essex. He is the author of Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity (1999) and Very LittleAlmost Nothing (Routledge, 1997). His most recent book is Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (2001).