ArgLab • Seminar

Mike K. Cundall

Humor and common good

The idea of a common good, a good or set of goods that unite us as members of a society, has existed likely since the time that people began grouping together. The common good has a long and influential history stretching back, at least in the western tradition to Plato and Aristotle, with the latter being long seen as the locus classicus for discussions on the topic. When one thinks of the common good the idea of a library, community centers, parks, and infrastructure comes to mind. Laudable and necessary as these are, this focus on things and spaces constrains and limits our understanding of what the common good is and requires. There is much more beyond the typical examples one finds in textbooks discussing the common good that can and should be considered a common good. In this paper, I will argue that humor, laughter, and mirth are all important parts of the common good. While it’s true they are goods that people enjoy, they are far more than simple goods we can add up in some sort of misguided hedonic calculus. They are integral bases that allow us to discuss and achieve many of the common goods we desire.

Mike K. Cundall (North Carolina A&T State University)

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