CHAPTER I THE COMIC IN GENERAL—THE COMIC ELEMENT IN FORMS AND MOVEMENTS—EXPANSIVE FORCE OF THE COMIC. What does laughter mean? What is the basal element in the laughable? What common ground can we find between the grimace of a merry-andrew, a play upon words, an equivocal situation in a burlesque and a scene of high comedy? What method of distillation will yield us invariably the same essence from which so many different products... more...

INTRODUCTION The history of the evolution of life, incomplete as it yet is, already reveals to us how the intellect has been formed, by an uninterrupted progress, along a line which ascends through the vertebrate series up to man. It shows us in the faculty of understanding an appendage of the faculty of acting, a more and more precise, more and more complex and supple adaptation of the consciousness of living beings to the conditions of... more...

LIFE AND MATTER AT WAR "Comprendre et ne pas s'indigner": this has been said to be the last word of philosophy. I believe none of it; and, had I to choose, I should much prefer, when in presence of crime, to give my indignation rein and not to understand. Happily, the choice has not to be made. On the contrary, there are forms of anger which, by a thorough comprehension of their objects, derive the force to sustain and renew their vigour. Our... more...

Before the dawn of history mankind was engaged in the study of dreaming. The wise man among the ancients was preëminently the interpreter of dreams. The ability to interpret successfully or plausibly was the quickest road to royal favor, as Joseph and Daniel found it to be; failure to give satisfaction in this respect led to banishment from court or death. When a scholar laboriously translates a cuneiform tablet dug up from a Babylonian... more...