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Laughter and Play in Plato's Gorgias

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This paper aims to show that laughter and play are employed as interconnected motifs with a specific function in Plato's Gorgias. I argue that the repeated and seemingly disconnected references to things identified as laughable and to attitudes identified as playful are in fact a systematic attempt to call into question conventional assumptions about the role of philosophy in general and the occasionally playful attitude of Socrates in particular. Socrates – and philosophy – may appear laughable, but the truly laughable ones are the very opponents of philosophy who adopt a mocking attitude towards it.
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Keywords: COMIC; GORGIAS; IRONY; LAUGHTER; PLATO; PLAY; PLAYFUL; SERIOUS; SOCRATIC IRONY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2019

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  • Hermes, founded in 1866 and currently edited by Siegmar Döpp, Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp and Adolf Köhnken, is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. It focuses on linguistics, literature as well as history. It features original articles in English, German, French and Italian.
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