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Comic novelist and critic Paul McDonald explores the philosophy of humour in a book that will appeal to philosophers and creative writers alike. One aim of this book is to assess theories of humour and laughter. It concentrates mainly on philosophical approaches to humour- including those of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Descartes, Hobbes, Bergson, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Freud and Bakhtin, but also explores such fields as cultural studies, literary theory, religion, psychoanalysis, and psychology; this broad focus makes for a richer account of humour, its relationship with philosophical thought, and its bearing on the human condition. Readers are invited to engage in creative writing exercises designed to exploit this crucial facet of humour, and to help them explore relevant issues imaginatively. In this way they will deepen their understanding of those issues, whilst at the same time cultivating their own creative skills.


REVIEW COMMENT "The philosophical study of humour has a complex and fitful history: few people have been brave enough to write about humour seriously, and those who have tend to disagree with one another. For those seeking an entry point, Paul McDonald’s The Philosophy of Humour (2012) gives a useful overview of the major theories. There are those who believe that laughter derives from a sense of superiority (Hobbes and Bergson) or from a sense of relief, or release of energy (Freud’s “economy of psychic expenditure”). But the earliest, most primal examples of humour all seem to have some sort of incongruity at their heart. McDonald gives the example of “the Lion Man figure found in 1939 in the Swabian Alps”, which is thought to be about 35,000 years old. Having the body of a lion and the legs of a man, it is thought to be one of the earliest examples of represented incongruity, dating from the time when human beings first developed “an ability to juxtapose disparate concepts”. Jonathan Coe, The Guardian.

As we walked up to the waterfall, the land was brown and dusty. When we arrived at the falls, everywhere the water touched was green and growing. In the same way, everywhere Jesus reaches, we see growth in dry situations. I hope that everywhere we went, we left behind life. During our clinics, I prayed to see with the eyes of Jesus and be his hands and feet to a desperate world. Well, that desperate world doesnt change when we leave Uganda. Even though we arent in Africa, we still need to be His eyes, hands and feet to everyone who sees us. Not just for big stuff like going to Uganda, but every day towards the people in our lives.

You dont need to be in Uganda to make a difference. You can do it right now, today, in your own home. Ask God how He can use you. Look for ways for people to see Jesus in everything you do. You will be astonished at what you discover.


Paul McDonald challenges and equips readers to walk in the fullness of their gifts and talents. Youll live a better life having read this book.
Margaret Feinberg, author of Flourish

Paul is a wellspring of wisdom and a voice worth listening to.
Jonathan Merritt, contributing writer for The Atlantic and author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch

Paul shares his struggles with doubt and frustration as he pursued a greater purpose and calling. Its never easy, and not always obvious, but following Jesus one step at a time will unlock greater meaning, adventure, and life than you can imagine.
Jeremy Cowart, photographer and founder of the Purpose Hotel
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