Quotations about   ridicule

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



As for Comedy, it is (as has been observed) an imitation of men worse than the average; worse, however, not as regards any and every sort of fault, but only as regards one particular kind, the Ridiculous, which is a species of the Ugly. The Ridiculous may be defined as a mistake or deformity not productive of pain or harm to others; the mask, for instance, that excites laughter, is something ugly and distorted without causing pain.

[ἡ δὲ κωμῳδία ἐστὶν ὥσπερ εἴπομεν μίμησις φαυλοτέρων μέν, οὐ μέντοι κατὰ πᾶσαν κακίαν, ἀλλὰ τοῦ αἰσχροῦ ἐστι τὸ γελοῖον μόριον. τὸ γὰρ γελοῖόν ἐστιν ἁμάρτημά τι καὶ αἶσχος ἀνώδυνον καὶ οὐ φθαρτικόν, οἷον εὐθὺς τὸ γελοῖον πρόσωπον αἰσχρόν τι καὶ διεστραμμένον ἄνευ ὀδύνης.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics [Περὶ ποιητικῆς, De Poetica], ch. 5 / 1449a (c. 335 BC) [tr. Bywater (1909)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower type -- not, however, in the full sense of the word bad, the ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive. To take an obvious example, the comic mask is ugly and distorted, but does not imply pain.
[tr. Butcher (1895)]

Comedy is, as we stated, the portrayal of an inferior class, yet not in all their inferiority, being the ludicrous side of ugliness abstracted. Ludicrousness is the painless and non-destructive variety of the species ugliness of the genus failing; thus, e.g., a ludicrous countenance is ugly and distorted, but not painful.
[tr. Margoliouth (1911)]

Comedy, as we have said, is a representation of inferior people, not indeed in the full sense of the word bad, but the laughable is a species of the base or ugly. It consists in some blunder or ugliness that does not cause pain or disaster, an obvious example being the comic mask which is ugly and distorted but not painful.
[tr. Fyfe (1932), sec. 3.4]

Comedy is, as we said, a representation of people who are rather inferior -- not, however, with respect to every kind of vice, but the laughable is [only] a part of what is ugly. For the laughable is a sort of error and ugliness that is not painful and destructive, just as, evidently, a laughable mask is something ugly and distorted without pain.
[tr. Janko (1987), sec. 2.4]

Comedy is, as we said, a mimesis of inferior persons not however that it has to do with the whole range of wickedness but with what is funny -- an aspect of ugliness. A funny thing, to be precise, is a clumsy mistake that is not painful or destructive: or to take an obvious example, the comic mask is ugly and grotesque but not repulsive or painful.
[tr. Whalley (1997)]

Comedy, as we said, is an imitation of people of a lower sort, though not in respect to every vice; rather, what is ridiculous is part of what is ugly. For the ridiculous is a certain sort of missing the mark and a deformity that is painless and not destructive; an immediate example is the comic mask, which is something deformed and misshapen without causing pain.
[tr. Sachs (2006)]

Comedy is, as we said, representation of people who are inferior but not wholly vicious: the ridiculous is one category of the embarrassing. What is ridiculous is some error embarrassment that is neither painful nor life-threatening; for example, a comic mask is ugly and distorted but does not cause pain.
[tr. Kenny (2013)]

Added on 7-May-21 | Last updated 7-May-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Aristotle

To ridicule philosophy, that is really to act the philosopher.

[Se moquer de la philosophie c’est vraiment philosophe.]

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French scientist and philosopher
Thoughts [Pensées], Article 7, #35 (1670)

Pascal's works are sorted and classified by translators in a variety of ways, so numbering is inconsistent. Alternate translations:
  • "To have no time for philosophy is to be a true philosopher." [tr. Krailsheimer (2003); Series 22, #513]
  • "To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher." [tr. Paul (1885), "Various Thoughts"; also Trotter (1958), Sec. 1, #4]
  • "To ridicule philosophy is really to philosophize." [#430]
  • "To ridicule philosophy is truly philosophical."
  • "To mock philosophy is to philosophize truly"
  • "To mock philosophy is to be a true philosopher."
Added on 22-Mar-21 | Last updated 22-Mar-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Pascal, Blaise

But when you frequent places of public worship, as I would have you go to all the different ones you meet with, remember that, however erroneous, they are none of them objects of laughter and ridicule. Honest error is to be pitied, not ridiculed. The object of all the public worships in the world is the same; it is that great eternal Being who created everything. The different manners of worship are by no means subjects of ridicule. Each sect thinks its own the best; and I know no infallible judge, in this world, to decide which is the best.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (16 Feb 1748)
    (Source)
Added on 11-Feb-21 | Last updated 11-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Chesterfield (Lord)

There is another sort of lies, inoffensive enough in themselves, but wonderfully ridiculous; I mean those lies which a mistaken vanity suggests, that defeat the very end for which they are calculated, and terminate in the humiliation and confusion of their author, who is sure to be detected. These are chiefly narrative and historical lies, all intended to do infinite honor to their author. He is always the hero of his own romances; he has been in dangers from which nobody but himself ever escaped; he as seen with his own eyes, whatever other people have heard or read of; he has had more bonnes fortunes than ever he knew women; and has ridden more miles post in one day, than ever courier went in two. He is soon ridiculed, and as soon becomes the object of universal contempt and ridicule.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (21 Sep 1747)
    (Source)
Added on 4-Feb-21 | Last updated 4-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Chesterfield (Lord)

Every man’s reason is, and must be, his guide; and I may as well expect that every man should be of my size and complexion, as that he should reason just as I do. Every man seeks for truth; but God only knows who has found it. It is, therefore, as unjust to persecute as it is absurd to ridicule people for those several opinions which they cannot help entertaining upon the conviction of their reason.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (21 Sep 1747)
    (Source)

Speaking of religious beliefs.
Added on 21-Jan-21 | Last updated 21-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Chesterfield (Lord)

Ridicule: After rape, the second most powerful method of controlling women.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
    (Source)
Added on 30-Apr-20 | Last updated 30-Apr-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Shear, Marie

To expose vices to the ridicule of all the world is a severe blow to them. Reprehensions are easily suffered, but not so ridicule. People do not mind being wicked; but they object to being made ridiculous.

[C’est une grande atteinte aux vices que de les exposer à la risée de tout le monde. On souffre aisément des répréhensions, mais on ne souffre point la raillerie. On veut bien être méchant, mais on ne veut point être ridicule.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Tartuffe, Preface (1664) [tr. Van Laun (1876)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "To expose vices to everyone’s laughter is to deal them a mighty blow. People easily endure reproofs, but they cannot at all endure being made fun of. People have no objection to being considered wicked, but they are not willing to be considered ridiculous." [tr. Kerr]
Added on 17-Apr-20 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Moliere

The greatest height of heroism to which an individual, like a people, can attain is to know how to face ridicule; better still, to know how to make oneself ridiculous and not to shrink from the ridicule.

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) Spanish philosopher and writer [Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo]
The Tragic Sense of Life [Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida], Conclusion (1913) [tr. Flitch (1921)]
    (Source)
Added on 6-Nov-15 | Last updated 6-Nov-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Unamuno, Miguel de

I have never made but one prayer to God, and very short one: “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Letter to M. Damilaville (16 May 1767)
Added on 21-Apr-15 | Last updated 21-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Voltaire

A jest breaks no bones.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (4 Jun 1781)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 10-Jan-14 | Last updated 10-Jan-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Johnson, Samuel

Humor distorts nothing, and only false gods are laughed off their pedestals.

Agnes Repplier (1855-1950) American writer
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Apr-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Repplier, Agnes