Date of Award

Spring 1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Lawrence Hatab

Committee Member

Robin Lewis

Committee Member

Charles Burgess

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H85G47


The objective of this thesis is an analysis of the role of laughter in the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), by which I mean both its influence on his intellectual development, and the incorporation of it in his philosophy. Such an undertaking is important because, while it might seem somewhat odd for a philosopher, and particularly a German philosopher, to consider laughter fundamental to his thought, laughter does play an essential role in all of Nietzsche's writing.

For the purposes of this thesis, I will investigate three separate but interrelated aspects of Nietzsche's thought: the influence of the Dionysian tragic-comic experience of the ancient Greeks in Athens during the Golden Age (5th century BC), best exemplified by the relationship of the historical figures of Aristophanes and Socrates; the psychology of laughter, and the role it plays in psychotherapy, with an eye to what light modem psychology can shed on Nietzsche's laughter in toto; and Nietzsche writings themselves, in an attempt to understand why he emphasizes laughter the way he does.


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