The Mirror of Laughter Paperback – July 31, 2011
by Alexander Kozintsev (Author), Richard Martin (Translator)
The Mirror of Laughter presents a theory of humor and laughter by examining their relationship to human behaviors. Kozintsev is especially interested in the relationship between biological and cultural factors that influence behaviors. He divides his work into four chapters, the first of which establishes a theme of the book, focusing on the study of meaning from the perspective of philosophy and psychology, while examining linguistic theories of humor.
The second chapter examines biological data regarding laughter and the evolutionary origins of laughter and humor. It demonstrates the author’s interest in studying humor objectively by detailing physiological reactions and underlying psychological issues. The third section on play, including linguistic play, distinguishes between orderly and disorderly play. While orderly play has no biological roots and is synonymous with culture, disorderly play is rooted in the pre-human past. The final chapter discusses the conflict between culture and nature and how culture has transformed the original semantics of laughter.
Kozintsev seeks to understand the relationship between the biological, cultural, and social origins of humor and, from here, he seeks to create new understanding that only the alliance of several disciplines could provide. All of this is done while the author challenges many popular ideas of humor, such as that humor is inherently related to hostility. Originally written in Russian, this work makes great strides towards its goal, and it does so in an interesting and enlightening way.
“In this remarkable book, Kozintsev (researcher, Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, St. Petersburg, Russia) discusses humor and laughter with examples from literature, neurophysiology, anthropology, ethnology, psychology, and philosophy….Martin’s translation is well done, and he includes many informative footnotes that make the Russian literature more accessible to a Western audience. Recommended.”
—P. L. Derks, CHOICE
“The Mirror of Laughter is a remarkable achievement, breaking down linguistic and disciplinary barriers in both Russian and English-language scholarship to produce rewarding new insights about laughter and humour in the context of human behaviour. Challenging in style and impressive in breadth of scholarship, the book integrates perspectives from ethnology, brain research, psychology, linguistics and literary studies to analyze precisely how and why these two distinct forms of expressive behaviour originated, their relationships to play, aggression and communication and their differing emotional and cognitive processes.”
—Jessica Milner Davis
About the Author
Alexander Kozintsev is senior researcher at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. Petersburg, Russia. His work has appeared in various journals including American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Journal of the Anthropological Society of Nippon, Aggressive Behavior, Arctic Anthropology, Human Evolution, Homo, Anthropologie, Current Anthropology, Humor and Primates, and the International Journal of Human Research.
Paperback: 235 pages
Publisher: Transaction Publishers; Rep Tra edition (July 31, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
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Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,445,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)