Odo Marquard, Humour, Reason, and Laughter

Radim Brázda


An integral part of Odo Marquard’s texts is both humour and reflections of humour, which he connects with human reason. That is why the theme of this contribution to commemorate Odo Marquard is the potential connection between humour, laughter, and reason. Marquard’s reflections on the connections between humour and reason are preceded in the text by an interpretation of evolutionary biological research on the emergence and role of laughter, which is considered to be important in understanding the development of man, and, as a result, man’s reason. From biological perspective, laughter is considered to be a form of social behaviour. Due to social aspects of laughter, one can trace a clear line between humour, which causes laughter, and reason, which is capable of producing humour and laughter. I continue with Marquard’s thoughts on potential connections between reason and humour in the framework of his philosophical anthropology. In the final part of my micro-etymological contribution I outline why humour is one the philosophically supreme activities of the human brain and show where Marquard’s ideas can supplement the evolutionary biological research of laughter. 


humour; laughter; reason; threshold reactions; compensation


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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097