Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Joker is Void

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was an oft-described genius whose investigations into thought and language (“a cloud of philosophy can be condensed into a drop of grammar”) produced a great upheaval in contemporary philosophy. He once expressed the view that a serious work in philosophy could consist entirely of jokes.
Common experience confirms Wittgenstein’s view that the explanation of the joke does not lie in its being the outcome of a special “inner process.” In Wittgenstein’s words: “Who among us has not spent days in the company of brilliant comic entertainers and not sensed feelings of emptiness? Hilarious jokes in the hands of a gifted comedic actor can conceal a void within the comedian himself, where there should be laughter and light.”

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