Posthuman Laughter

  • Muller, C. (Invited speaker)
  • Benjamin Nickl (Invited speaker)
  • Jessica Milner Davis (Invited speaker)
  • Mihaela Brebenel (Invited speaker)
  • Louisa Peacock (Invited speaker)
  • Ian Reilly (Invited speaker)
  • Megen DeBruin (Invited speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


This interdisciplinary webinar focuses on humour that confronts our own media habits, dependence on technology and the wider cultural imaginary surrounding visions of a Hi-Tech, posthuman future.

In Western thought, humour has a long tradition of being regarded an exclusively human phenomenon. Henri Bergson's Le Rire (1900), for instance, introduces the comic as something that "does not exist outside the realm of what is strictly human: "You may laugh at an animal," Bergson notes "but only because you have detected in it some human attitude or expression" and it also erupts each time "a person gives us the impression of being a thing". The theory Bergson sketches out, thus presents laughter as an automatic bodily corrective that separates the human both from animals and machines, and thereby automatically humanises us from within.

In this session, we turn to the "impossible object of humor" (to cite Simon Critchley), to probe the lines between the human and being an animal body animated by machines, a distinction, as Bergson's theory underlines, that is necessarily ambiguous and fluid. For humour is said to attain its infectious dynamic precisely because our lives habitually stray across these lines - we laugh, because being human is only a precarious part time job, an intermezzo between being animal and functioning absentmindedly like a machine.
Period13 Nov 2020
Event titleHuman Worlds 2020 - Being Human as Praxis: Being Human - a festival of the humanities
Event typeOther
LocationSouthampton , United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational