Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Joanne Waugh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charles Guignon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joshua Rayman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Iain Thomson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cynthia Willett, Ph.D.


aesthetics, Aristotle, Philosophy of Laughter and Humor, Heidegger, kant, Nietzsche


The Efficacy of Comedy: Focusing on the efficacy of comedy as a genre, utilizing Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Heidegger’s philosophy. It begins with a historical analysis of the efficacy of comedy in Ancient 4th and 5th century Athens focusing on Aristotle’s conceptions of comedy. It analyses what Aristotle wrote about comedy and attempts a reconstruction of what his book on comedy from the poetics may have said. It then examines the shift to aesthetics rather than the Philosophy of Art with a focus on Kant and the Critique of Judgment. Comedy here is used as an interpretive tool in order to highlight the shortcomings of Aesthetics. It then examines comedy and its potential for being a truly great art form and explicates a Heideggerian interpretation of comedy. This novel interpretation describes two types of comedy: True comedy and Fallen comedy. Finally, it provides a Nietzschean perspective, particularly as it pertains to the power of comedy and laughter and its ability to overcome the exclusive mono-perspective found in the ascetic ideal and its overestimation of the efficacy of truth in our contemporary context.

Included in

Philosophy Commons