Taking humour seriously

It is an immense defect in a character to be without lightness. A
character which is all lightness can excite neither respect nor
sympathy. Seriousness must be the fond of all characters worth
thinking about. But a certain infusion of the laughing philosopher,
even in his least popular form—an openness to that view of things
which, showing them on the undignified side, makes any exaggerated
care about them seem childish and ridiculous—is a prodigious help
towards bearing the evils of life, and I should think has saved many a
person from going mad. It is also necessary to the completeness even
of the intellect itself. The contemptible side of things is part,
though but a part, of the truth of them, and to be incapable of seeing
and feeling that part with as much force and clearness as any other—to
be blind to that aspect of things which was the only one the Cynics
chose to look at —is to be able to see things only by halves. There
always seems something stunted about the intellect of those who have
no humour, however earnest and enthusiastic, and however highly
cultivated, they often are.
John Stuart Mill

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