• As If: Connecting Phenomenology, Mirror Neurons, Empathy, and Laughter
    Phaenex: Journal of Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture 7 (1). 2012.
    The discovery of mirror neurons in both primates and humans has led to an enormous amount of research and speculation as to how conscious beings are able to interact so effortlessly among one another. Mirror neurons might provide an embodied basis for passive synthesis and the eventual process of further communalization through empathy, as envisioned by Edmund Husserl. I consider the possibility of a phenomenological and scientific investigation of laughter as a point of connection that might in…Read more
  •  61
    Parrhesia, Humor, and Resistance
    Israeli Journal of Humor Research 9 (1): 22-46. 2020.
    This paper begins by taking seriously former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ response in his What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? to systematic violence and oppression. He claims that direct argumentation is not the ideal mode of resistance to oppression: “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.” I will focus on a few elements of this playful mode of resistance that conflict with the more straightforward strivings for abstract, universal, objectiv…Read more
  •  149
    World-Traveling, Double Consciousness, and Laughter
    Israeli Journal for Humor Research 2 (6): 93-119. 2017.
    In this paper I borrow from Maria Lugones’ work on playful “world-traveling” and W.E.B. Du Bois’ notion of “double consciousness” to make the case that humor can facilitate an openness and cooperative attitude among an otherwise closed, even adversarial audience. I focus on what I call “subversive” humor, that which is employed by or on behalf of those who have been continually marginalized. When effectively used, such humor can foster the inclination and even desire to listen to others and, if …Read more
  •  658
    An Existentialist account of the role of humor against oppression
    Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 26 (4). 2013.
    I argue that the overt subjugation in the system of American slavery and its subsequent effects offer a case study for an existentialist analysis of freedom, oppression and humor. Concentrating on the writings and experiences of Frederick Douglass and the existentialists Simone De Beauvoir and Lewis Gordon, I investigate how the concepts of “spirit of seriousness”, “mystification”, and an existentialist reading of “double consciousness” for example, can elucidate the forms of explicit and concea…Read more
  •  1427
    The discovery of mirror neurons in both primates and humans has led to an enormous amount of research and speculation as to how conscious beings are able to interact so effortlessly among one another. Mirror neurons might provide an embodied basis for passive synthesis and the eventual process of further communalization through empathy, as envisioned by Edmund Husserl. I consider the possibility of a phenomenological and scientific investigation of laughter as a point of connection that might in…Read more