Laughter

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(ME. laughen; AS. hlehhan, hlihhan, to laugh). A uniquely human physiological and behavioral property. Movement of the mouth and other parts of the face that demonstrates the happiness of a person or group. “Laughter” is the title of an essay on the meaning of comicality, published by Henri Bergson in 1899. It is a particularly interesting work because, aside from its aesthetic insightfulness, it establishes a cognitive function that is geared to real life, although opposed to the conceptual function. “Laughter” is of particular interest in this regard because, aside from its penetrating aesthetic insights, it shows how l. is grounded in a cognitive function adapted to real life yet opposed to the conceptual function. L. represents a reaction against the mechanical-ness of the appearances that are mounted over a situation, that are not deeply incorporated, but rather simply accepted. When details of the disproportion in such appearances are thrown into sharp relief, a rupture is produced in the concealment of these defects. Such a rupture has a variety of consequences, one of them being laughter. This is particularly evident in literary satire. l. is an incisive instrument in politico-social struggle, allowing people to pillory the oppressor, ridicule them and win a moral victory over them. In many of its publications and social activities, N.H. employs irony and satire to combat obscurantism and oppression, to defend human dignity and liberties.