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Laughter, Judgment and Democratic Politics

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This essay traces a line of thought from Kant's phenomenology of laughter in Critique of Judgment through Hannah Arendt's appropriation and modification of Kantian reflective judgment in order to explore how laughter may inform a mode and style of political judgment I call the politics of laughter. I argue that laughter is a pleasurable affective response to the contingency of experience, an affect which can infuse political judgment and open the possibility of a more affirmative democratic politics. The last section of the essay imagines a series of conversations emerging from a viewing of the movie Borat in order to show what issues would be raised, and in what tone conversation would proceed, in a politics of laughter.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14735780802696328

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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