COLLOQUIUM: Pierre Destrée, Université catholique de Louvain, "Aristotle on the Value of Comedy"

Thursday, December 6, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

When dealing with Aristotle’s Poetics, scholars typically assume that he regards tragedy as the most valuable of poetic genres; Aristotle’s analysis of comedy would then be marginal to his whole project, or would perhaps play a sort of foil to better assert the value of tragedy. I claim that such views are mistaken. In this presentation, I review the passages dedicated to comedy in the Poetics, as well as the jokes Arsitotle reports from (now lost) comedies in his Rhetoric. I argue that (under certain conditions) comedy fulfills a typically human propensity for laughter, thus being part and parcel of human eudaemonia.