SPAH Lecture Series: Political Realism and the Case for Comedy


This talk is organised around the following questions: (i) Why would or should we turn to works of fiction as part of a philosophical inquiry into ethical and political questions? (ii) How come that if and when political philosophers do incorporate fiction, they tend to turn to tragedies, and rarely ever to comedies? (iii) Assuming there is some value in incorporating fiction, what might we be missing out on when ignoring comedies?

I will explore these questions by drawing on the work of Raymond Geuss and Bernard Williams, as well as on three works of comic fiction: Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, and Aristophanes’ Peace. And as the title of my talk suggests, I will try to make a case for why political philosophers might want to take comedy seriously.