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The Philosophy of Humor

Philosophy humor psychology

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#1 Ludikrus


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Posted 28 May 2016 - 11:46 AM

There are three competing theories of jokes. The “superiority theory,” which can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle, holds that we find something risible when we feel superior to it. The classic statement of this theory was supplied in the seventeeth century by Hobbes, who declared that laughter expressed “a sudden glory arising from some conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others.” On this theory all humor is at root mockery and derision, all laughter a slightly spiritualized snarl.

A second traditional theory of humor, the “incongruity theory,” was hinted at by Aristotle (in the Rhetoric he observed that a good way to get a laugh was to set up your audience to expect one thing and then to hit them with a surprising punchline) and worked out in detail by Kant in his Critique of Judgment (1790), and by Schopenhauer in The World as Will and Representation (1819). The gist of the incongruity theory is that we laugh when two things normally kept in separate compartments in our mind are unexpectedly yanked together. On this rather intellectualist account, a joke forces us to perceive incongruities: between the decorous and the low, the ideal and the actual, the logical and the absurd.

Finally there is the “relief theory” of humor, which was pioneered by Herbert Spencer and given its most elaborate statement by Freud. Laughter, Freud submitted in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, is essentially a release of excess energy. Where does this energy come from? From the temporary lifting of an inhibition. Keeping down forbidden impulses, Freud held, requires an expenditure of psychic effort. When the cunning devices of a joke force such a thought or feeling to be entertained (by presenting it in an outwardly innocent guise), the energy used to maintain the inhibition against it suddenly becomes superfluous. It is therefore available to be discharged through the facial and respiratory muscles in the form of laughter.




Modern evolutionary theory might offer some support to the Relief Theory. If humor functions as a relief valve for excess energy or negative emotions, it might provide a significant survival advantage. Human beings are usually safer and more prosperous in stable communities than when isolated. Yet human beings also have a tendency to anger and aggression. The Relief Theory argues that humor lessens tension levels; if so, individuals with an appreciation for humor have an advantage over those who don’t, in that it will be easier for them to maintain community membership (Herbert Lefcourt, Humor: The Psychology of Living Buoyantly). As systems of mutual cooperation and coordination of activities, communities confer a survival advantage on their members. So a good sense of humor is survival-enhancing. The theory of natural selection would then predict that such a trait is likely to be pervasive a mong human beings.

Humor also can enhance community cohesion by functioning as an invitation to social interaction (Lefcourt). It can enhance community by acting as a binding agent: playful engagement in humorous activities is pleasant; so individuals who engage in these mutually pleasant activities will associate social interaction with pleasure, and hence be encouraged to spend more time together with others in their group. As Herbert Lefcourt points out, Charles Darwin (The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals), in fact, viewed humor primarily as a form of social communication. If we conclude that a tendency to enjoy humor and comedy is a binding force for a society, then group-selection theory also provides an evolutionary explanation for the persistence of humor in human society. Group-selection theory (a variation on natural selection theory) is the theory that natural selection functions at the level of communities. A more unified community is more likely to coordinate activities and prosper, so that community is more likely to survive and grow. If humor functions as a relief-valve for negative emotions and makes communities more 12 stable, group-selection theory would predict the persistence of humor as a social and cultural aspect of human communities. In conjunction with group-selection theory, the Relief Theory
would imply that, over time, we should expect an increase in both the distribution and population of communities with a good collective sense of humor. ..

http://faculty.swosu... of Humor_1.pdf

For now, I'll just state my own basic definition humor by dividing it into two categories: Comedy and Satire! I'll keep it simple for now and state that I believe comedy to be more benign in its approach. Whereas satire is negative in its approach. Both can illuminate points of keen thinking to an audience, but, in my opinion satire reflects a desire to break down the negative with a sort of violent overthrow of the absurd. Satire is much more destructive in its nature...


I'll have to think on this some more...and, of course, I'll be adding more links to information on this thread topic.

Your thoughts, opinions, and bias' are welcome. Please don't hesitate to point out the ludicrous for us all to share....\\




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#2 status - Guest

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 01:35 PM

Ya think Bill Clinton could identify with that?

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#3 status - Dancin'

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Posted 29 May 2016 - 10:48 AM

Unexpected humor has a way of deflating the destructive emotions within ourselves. Sometimes you just gotta dance with it to distract the doom those emotions tend to create.
Most of the time it's our own damn fault for bringing the blues to our hearts and souls. 

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#4 Ludikrus


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Posted 29 May 2016 - 11:32 AM

Humor has many uses. Both good and bad. It can bait others to do things they normally wouldn't do or it can elevate the human condition to help us realize the absurdity of our own negative situations that bring us down into those dark caves we sometimes find ourselves in.. Sometimes, even the positive ones can cause problems. Too much of a good thing keeps us locked and chained while listening to the shadows speak their lies.


Humor can help us see our own ego and help prevent our heads from ballooning too much from pride. Take Aristophanes 'The Clouds' as an example: Socrates wasn't perfect. The play makes this point by making fun of old Socrates by bringing the baser elements of human nature to bear. I suppose Aristophanes is trying to tell Socrates to come down to the ground and have a drink with us all and lighten up a bit. Moderation is key!


How about this guy: Empedocles! There's a story (perhaps, untrue) that he threw himself into a volcano to prove that he was a god. Totally absurd, but funny as hell....





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#5 status - Tom Cullen

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Posted 29 May 2016 - 11:51 AM



Laws, yes!




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#6 Jesse Jimmie

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Posted 29 May 2016 - 02:29 PM

Good thread, Ludikrus!



Great to share, too:






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To Cluck or not to Cluck, that is the question...

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Posted 01 June 2016 - 01:14 PM

The Divine Conspiracy!
Comic Relief
A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor.
Everyone needs comic relief. Understanding why laughter is important to our better natures. What makes you laugh and why? 

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#8 status - Yahoo

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Posted 04 June 2016 - 04:05 PM

The recluse artist doubles for the great enigma of Art. He reflects the deep mystery, the magnificent consonance that rhythmically flows together in a hymn with which the soul finds unexpected kinship and is so teleported back to a place that existed before we were born – as a species it would seem, much more than as individuals. We oftentimes credit such stuff to an author, a “creator,” a God, even though a work of art, like life itself, is baffling and capacious enough to suggest that no author is worthy of its splendour. We are fascinated. We are held in aesthetic arrest and rapture. And we are fascinated more so in realizing the disappearance or silence of the artist, the emissary of the mysteries, be it Salinger, Pynchon, Kubrick, Malick, or the gods of all of the creation myths.

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#9 Feathers


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Posted 05 June 2016 - 05:07 PM

Who wants to make fun of Obama's ears?





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Posted 05 June 2016 - 05:12 PM

Who wants to make fun of Obama's ears?








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