• IvoryBlackBishop
    299
    I was curious if anyone has any opinions on humor, or philosophical takes on humor.

    I've yet to see anything akin to a "grand unified theory" or humor, or how humor relates to art and aesthetics; obviously there is no "exact science" to it, and humor which may offend one person. may cause another to laugh.

    Realistically, I do think that there are some objective elements of humor, and that while, in practice, people may find it subjective, that there are probably better or worse ways of viewing and opining on it, akin to art or aesthetic theories (e.x. beauty, in practice may be in the eye of the beholder, but there are better and worse ways of beholding things, much as how a person with 20/20 vision would naturally have an easier time viewing something accurately to begin with than a person of 20/200 vision).

    So far, this book is the only one that I've read on the subject, I do believe that there are others as well. As far as Aristotle, I vaguely recall him asserting that finding a balance between humorousness and serious is ideal, rather than "extremes" (e.x. too serious to the point of being pedantic or neurotic, or too humorous to the point of being apathetic, offensive, or boorish).

    https://www.amazon.com/Take-Course-Please-Philosophy-Humor/dp/B07K2H2X21/ref=sr_1_9?keywords=humor+philosophy&qid=1583362236&sr=8-9
  • Pussycat
    368
    A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes. — Wittgenstein
  • DingoJones
    2.8k


    Its such a difficult thing to have knowledge about because laughter is involuntary. Whatever processes humour triggers to cause laughter or amusement are largely sub-conscious, maybe entirely. Even comedians, our experts on humour have only a tentative grasp on what makes people laugh and they do that mostly through trial and error.
    I think your comparison to art is apt. Good comedy is an art form. I also agree that there are objective elements, common traits to all humour, or certain kinds of humour at least. Some things get a laugh out of just about anyone. Its just very hard to parse out exactly what those traits are.
  • Pussycat
    368
    If philosophers spent the same amount of time writing about the philosophy of humour as they did about ethics, then I think we would be much better off. Yet another indication that philosophy is dead.
  • DingoJones
    2.8k


    In what way is it dead?
  • Gnomon
    3.5k
    So far, this book is the only one that I've read on the subject, I do believe that there are others as well.IvoryBlackBishop
    Aristotle wrote the book on humor in the Poetics : contrasting Tragedy with Comedy. Everything since has been footnotes to Aristotle. In his discussion of rhythm & meter he even anticipated the modern comedian's summary : "it's all in the timing". But the basic distinction between Tragedy & Comedy is the attitude of the observer : when a slap-stick Marx Brother gets poked in the eye, his tragedy is my comedy. :cool:
  • Pussycat
    368
    Oh, in many ways, I reckon. Take humour for example. Why is there so little on this topic? On the metaphysics of humour I mean, its ontology, where are they, what is humour and in what ways is it triggered? (philosophically speaking) But if you look at ethics, you will find a vast amount of works. Its like philosophy is at odds with humour and laughter, taking itself toooo seriously in this cosmic joke we are living.

    maxresdefault.jpg
  • NOS4A2
    8.2k


    As an aside, we should remember that laughter doesn't arise only out of humor, but it also appears in the most egregious cases of bullying and torture. Sadly, one can be humored by violence and subjugation.
  • DingoJones
    2.8k


    You said lack of philosophy on humour was “yet another” reason philosophy is dead. What are the other reasons?
  • Pussycat
    368
    ha, you are very perceptive, although I said indication, not reason. Anyway, a rather good reason for philosophy being dead is the complete lack of music in works of philosophy, now this is a very good reason, indeed. Humour, maybe we can do without, but music, as well as poetry, we cannot.
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    I've yet to see anything akin to a "grand unified theory" or humor, or how humor relates to art and aestheticsIvoryBlackBishop

    If we say all humor is connected to the concept of irony, does that get us anywhere? That is the only "universal" I can think of related to humor. And even that is questionable...although I can't think of any humor that doesn't fit. Even peek-a-boo elicits a hearty laugh from babies who did not expect that face to come out of nowhere.
  • A Seagull
    615
    The difficulty in bringing humour into philosophical writings is that it is inherently ambiguous, the author may be making a valid point but identifying exactly what the point is would be ambiguous.

    That said, a humour is important as it typically presents an alternative viewpoint from a strictly and supposedly logical argument.

    Religions generally abhor humour as it can expose the absurdity of their tenets.
  • Athena
    2.9k
    Religions generally abhor humour as it can expose the absurdity of their tenets.A Seagull

    I agree with that notion.

    People who can't laugh at themselves are scary. Can you imagine a laughing suicide bomber?
  • A Seagull
    615
    Can you imagine a laughing suicide bomber?Athena

    Lol
  • DingoJones
    2.8k
    ↪DingoJones ha, you are very perceptive, although I said indication, not reason. Anyway, a rather good reason for philosophy being dead is the complete lack of music in works of philosophy, now this is a very good reason, indeed. Humour, maybe we can do without, but music, as well as poetry, we cannot.Pussycat

    Well, I didn't quote you as saying “reason” :wink:

    Those things you mentioned may be missing from philosophy, but wouldnt that mean philosophy never lived at all rather died?
    Also, there is no reason philosophy cannot be applied to those things is there? So are you talking about the limits philosophy, or philosophers?
  • Pussycat
    368
    Well, I didn't quote you as saying “reason”DingoJones

    haha, true, true, I guess you are off the hook then.

    Those things you mentioned may be missing from philosophy, but wouldnt that mean philosophy never lived at all rather died?DingoJones

    Yeah, it might mean that as well, either that it was never born - so how can it die??! - or that it was born, lived a little, and then died, like those infants with various conditions, not living much, or living on borrowed time, not having the chance to amount to anything in life, like they were just born to die.

    Also, there is no reason philosophy cannot be applied to those things is there? So are you talking about the limits philosophy, or philosophers?DingoJones

    What limit, the sky's the limit, like they say. And yes, I see no reason why philosophy cannot be applied to those things, as you say. But of course philosophers will bite and won't bite.
  • DingoJones
    2.8k


    So I wonder why they havent bitten. Maybe the subject just isnt that philosophically rich, there is less space for philosophy to operate when the subject matter either has very little grey area (like math or most science) or way too much grey area (like music or art with a huge subjective component).
  • Pussycat
    368
    Dunno why, maybe because there is no bait, or maybe because they are disinterested in this sort of bait, eg some cheese, which is nevertheless mouldy. Anyway, this is getting off-topic so I'll stop here.
  • IvoryBlackBishop
    299

    I can't "prove" this assertion, but from what I've observed, humor usually relates to subjects which we consider "beneath" us (e.x. people making mistakes, or acting in a foolish way), while "art" relates to things we consider beautiful, inspiring or "above" us.
  • PuerAzaelis
    54
    For a philosophy of humor you would first need a philosophy of humorlousness:

    For many, especially the young, discovering a new meaning in the midst of the fallen world is thrilling. And social-justice ideology does everything a religion should. It offers an account of the whole: that human life and society and any kind of truth must be seen entirely as a function of social power structures, in which various groups have spent all of human existence oppressing other groups. And it provides a set of practices to resist and reverse this interlocking web of oppression — from regulating the workplace and policing the classroom to checking your own sin and even seeking to control language itself. I think of non-PC gaffes as the equivalent of old swear words. Like the puritans who were agape when someone said “goddamn,” the new faithful are scandalized when someone says something “problematic.” Another commonality of the zealot then and now: humorlessness.

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/andrew-sullivan-americas-new-religions.html?utm_source=tw
  • DingoJones
    2.8k


    Not sure I can agree with you there. Art can be dark, or abstract or sad, not “above” us at all. Humour can be self deprecating, or ironic, or clever...things I wouldnt consider “below” us.
    You stated that like a dichotomy aa well, like art and humour are two sides of the same coin but Id say they pretty freely intermingle. Art can be funny, funny can be art. Sometimes both at the same time.
    Certainly what you observe is true of some humour and art though.
  • mcdoodle
    1.1k
    The philosophy of humour has its very own Stanford encyclopaedia entry by John Morreall. Plenty of philosophers have wondered about humour; most unexpectedly, Thomas Aquinas. Humour involves play and incongruity, the recognition and upturning of norms. It’s bound to be a worrying phenomenon for sensible philosophical types. Perhaps its time has come. If the world has become absurd enough for more people to get the joke.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.6k
    A sort of mirror image of beauty, I hold, is drama, by which I mean an umbrella category encompassing both comedy and tragedy. The common factor to comedy and tragedy, and what I hold makes drama like a mirror image of beauty, is that while beauty is about experiences of something seeming in some way right, comedy and tragedy are both experiences of something seeming in some way wrong. The distinguishing difference between comedy and tragedy is how they approach that wrongness: comedy approaches it frivolously, with levity, making light of whatever is wrong; while tragedy approaches it seriously, with gravity, taking the wrong thing to be a weighty matter. This wrongness can be of either a descriptive or prescriptive kind, just like the rightness of beauty can be. I think this is best illustrated in the wide varieties of comedy, ranging from slapstick (where people experiencing physical violence is treated lightly instead of as a matter of grievous injury) and roasts or other jokes explicitly at someone's expense (that are treated as an acceptable transgressions of social norms), which are both making light of prescriptively bad things; to jokes that hinge on setting up and then subverting expectations (where something that was thought to true turns out to be false), including postmodern comedy that violates medium conventions such as breaking the fourth wall, and even things like puns where the wrongness is just the use of the wrong word in place of the expected one. All comedy hinges on something being, in some way or another, wrong, and yet treated as not a big deal. Tragedy, on the other hand, depicts something being in some way wrong, and makes a big deal out of it being wrong. Both of them are, for that wrongness that they depend on, in some way un-beautiful. Yet both can nevertheless be, in the end, beautiful in their own way. Comedy, in making light of bad things, shows them as not so bad, and so correspondingly good, at least relatively speaking, and thereby beautiful in a way. And tragedy, in treating bad things as weighty matters, can speak hard truths about bad experiences that people can really have, and so, for that truth, also be beautiful in a way.The Codex Quaerentis: On Rhetoric and the Arts
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    I remember asking in the old forum, which has sadly collapsed, the following question:

    Why is it that a carnivore's teeth-baring snarl looks uncannily similar to a human smile? In both cases the mouth is opened and the primary weapon of carnivores, teeth, fangs and all, are revealed and displayed. Can I take a soldier pointing his AK-47 at me as humorous? Is it then humorous for me to pull out my own gun and point it at the soldier?
  • Pinprick
    950
    Purely speculative, but I always viewed laughter as a socially acceptable way to express pleasure that would otherwise be viewed as unacceptable. This could explain why comedy can become dated as cultural norms change. Also, what we often find to be humorous are things that are offensive, taboo, controversial, painful, embarrassing, “sinful” desires, etc. In this way, I think laughter is a natural act that humans, being social creatures, could perform without risking being ostracized from the tribe. Therefore, humor arose from this phenomena as a pathway for others to gain acceptance and/or stature within the group as well. Those of us who could laugh at unfortunate events (pain, embarrassment, etc.) as a way to express the pleasure witnessing them caused, as opposed to actually causing the events themselves, were more likely to be accepted by the group. The involuntary act of laughter was then exploited by those who were good at making people laugh as a way to gain acceptance within the group.
  • Lionino
    849
    For many, especially the young, discovering a new meaning in the midst of the fallen world is thrilling. And social-justice ideology does everything a religion should. It offers an account of the whole: that human life and society and any kind of truth must be seen entirely as a function of social power structures, in which various groups have spent all of human existence oppressing other groups. And it provides a set of practices to resist and reverse this interlocking web of oppression — from regulating the workplace and policing the classroom to checking your own sin and even seeking to control language itself. I think of non-PC gaffes as the equivalent of old swear words. Like the puritans who were agape when someone said “goddamn,” the new faithful are scandalized when someone says something “problematic.” Another commonality of the zealot then and now: humorlessness.PuerAzaelis

    Perfectly said. Despite claims of the contrary, "woke" derives at least half from the Frankfurt school, of Marxist basis. Some believe that Neo-Marxism is antithetical to religion, especially Christianity; it may be so, but for me Neo-Marxism is the polluted sea of modernity where the river of Christianity leads to, one is the conclusion of the other. Victimism and disingenuity is a core tenet of both.
  • Joshs
    5.1k
    Despite claims of the contrary, "woke" derives at least half from the Frankfurt school, of Marxist basis. Some believe that Neo-Marxism is antithetical to religion, especially Christianity; it may be so, but for me Neo-Marxism is the polluted sea of modernity where the river of Christianity leads to, one is the conclusion of the other. Victimism and disingenuity is a core tenet of both.Lionino

    The Frankfurt school is a pretty big tent, including figures
    as diverse as Adorno and Habermas. Wokism dips into certain aspects of neo-Marxism, including Gramsci, who is closer to classical Marxism than someone like Adorno. Like all popular movements, wokism has its zealots, but I’m not sure what it would mean to call Marxism and its progeny disingenuous. Its philosophical contributions have been acknowledged by many 20th and 21st century schools of philosophy. The only ones rejecting the philosophy in toto are conservatives , who generally haven’t ventured past Kant in their thinking. For them all the troubles, or ‘disingenuousness’, begin with Hegel.
  • Lionino
    849
    but I’m not sure what it would mean to call Marxism and its progeny disingenuous.Joshs

    I called the "woke" movement disingenuous, not Marxism. My issues with Marxism broadly are other than disingenuity.

    Its philosophical contributions have been acknowledged by many 20th and 21st century schools of philosophyJoshs

    Karl Marx (1818–1883) is often treated as a revolutionary, an activist rather than a philosopherSEP

    The only ones rejecting the philosophy in toto are conservatives , who generally haven’t ventured past Kant in their thinkingJoshs

    Like all popular movements, conservatism has its philosophy deniers, but I’m not sure what it would mean to call conservatives philosophy deniers.

    VRWaNUT.png

    I would not call NDT a conservative.
  • Joshs
    5.1k
    Karl Marx (1818–1883) is often treated as a revolutionary, an activist rather than a philosopher
    — SEP
    Lionino

    The question is whether there are any prominent philosophers who dont consider Marx to be a philosopher, and the answer is no.

    Like all popular movements, conservatism has its philosophy deniers, but I’m not sure what it would mean to call conservatives philosophy deniers.Lionino

    I’m not calling conservatives philosophy deniers , I’m calling conservative philosophers deniers of the validity of post-Hegelian philosophy.
    I would not call NDT a conservativeLionino
    I would call him someone who doesn’t understand philosophy. This was true of Stephen Hawking as well, but not Heisenberg or Bohr.
  • baker
    5.5k
    I would not call NDT a conservative
    — Lionino
    I would call him someone who doesn’t understand philosophy.
    Joshs
    Maybe he is a p-zombie.
  • Tom Storm
    8.1k
    Maybe he is a p-zombie.baker

    Excellent, a joke, finally in this terribly dry thread on humour. :clap:
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