Dialogue on the Threshold

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Saturday, 3 July 2010

Cur nullus possit seipse titillare?


Cur nullus possit seipse titillare?

Titillatio risus species esse videtur, etsi nesciam maximis quibusdam Philosophis placere verum risum non esse, sed huic similem. Alii ita loquuntur, ut dicant, ex titillatu in nobis excitari risum, sed haec nunc relinquentes in medio, quaerimus, cur nemo possit seipsum titillare? Respondit Vallesius lib. 5. controversiarum cap. 9. Titillatio fit ex fraudulento & clandestino tactu seu attrectatione partium acerrimi sensus, ad quas musculorum sunt capita. Eae sentiunt voluptatem ex tactu velut delintis carneis partibus, quem repente & latentur accedens transfundit gaudium ad cor cum quadam novitatis specie, atque ita risus fit. At nullus tactus potest sibi ipsi occulte seu latenter occurrere, Nemo igitur potest seipse titillare.

Rodolphi Gocklenii De risu et ridiculo problemata (Frankfurt, 1607), cap. v

Why is no man able to tickle himself?

Tickling can be seen to be a species of laughter, although in the opinion of certain great philosophers it is not true laughter, but merely similar to it. Likewise, others say that laughter is, as they argue, stimulated in us from a tickling, but leaving these things undecided we shall now ask why it is that no man is able to tickle himself. Vallesius, in Book 5, Chapter 9 of his Disputations, answers that tickling is produced by furtive and secret touching or by fingering of the parts of sharpest sense, present at the extremities of the muscles. These feel pleasure from the touching and the contraction of the fleshy parts, which the swiftly and secretly attendant delight transfers to the heart together with a certain kind of surprise, and thus laughter is produced. But no man is able to touch himself in secret or run up on himself and surprise himself. Therefore no man is able to tickle himself.

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