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Philosophy of humour

 
 
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 08:42 am
How do jokes function?
My only thoughts on the subject are extremely vague and need sharpening:
I think that jokes enable us to make statements that appear to undermine themselves. Almost like putting things in parenthesis.
Absurdity reminds us of the abyss over which concepts float, humour seems to act in the same way. In a lot of ways I think humour is probably the most profound reaction to life.
Sorry this is an awful post, I am almost falling asleep at my keyboard.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 10 • Views: 4,014 • Replies: 28
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OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 08:44 am

Its an interesting subject.





David
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spidergal
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 09:18 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Life is basically absurd. And we're revelling in its absurdity no matter what. And going by that, humor is basically the most profound reaction to life, like you said.

Sorry, I'm myself falling asleep at my keyboard (guess what, I am at work).
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 09:50 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Not many philosophers have really tried to explain humor. Henri Bergson thought that the more a person's actions resembled something mechanical or non-human, the funnier they were. This might help explain why the French are only marginally funnier than Germans.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 10:46 am
Some interesting reading on the subject can be found here (and in the additional topics at the end).
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tsarstepan
 
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Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 11:25 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
When I first saw the thread title, I thought I read the humor of philosphy then I thought isn't that an oxymoron. Then I reread the title... and oh that makes sense.

But the science of jokes and humor is really counterproductive or at least how several authors on the subject I have heard talk about their research seem to imply. Once you start dissecting a joke, its components, its context, its target, etc... then the joke stops being funny.

Quote:
Absurdity reminds us of the abyss over which concepts float, humour seems to act in the same way. In a lot of ways I think humour is probably the most profound reaction to life.

That's why we can still joke about other people dying. It's a reflex from our own insecurities on the finite nature of life.

Only with a leveral of maturity can we as individuals joke about our own up and coming deaths.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 01:36 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
As a music graduate, try analysing this from The Goon Show.

Scene: Min and Henry Crun's Kitchen. Henry is practising playing the spoons

Henry: Min ! This spoon is out of tune. Have you been stirring the soup with it ?
Min: No, I used a violin !
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 03:54 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Not many philosophers have really tried to explain humor.

Humorists, on the other hand, are quite happy to try to explain philosophy. That's why every inquiry into The Pentacle Queen's topic must necessarily start with Monty Python's philosopher song:

0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 06:15 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
So on contemplating the spoon scenario above, I am tempted to say that one "philosophical aspect" of humour is the demonstration of the fragility of general agreements on "functionality" of concepts. I (of course) would take such fragility as a nail in the coffin of naive realism and an indicator of "reality as a social construction". There are also indicators of "holism". (The violin in the soup would not be as funny without the "musical spoon" setting up a gestalt).
north
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 10:24 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
The Pentacle Queen wrote:

How do jokes function?
My only thoughts on the subject are extremely vague and need sharpening:
I think that jokes enable us to make statements that appear to undermine themselves. Almost like putting things in parenthesis.
Absurdity reminds us of the abyss over which concepts float, humour seems to act in the same way. In a lot of ways I think humour is probably the most profound reaction to life.
Sorry this is an awful post, I am almost falling asleep at my keyboard.


without humour how would one release intelligent frustration with not only the world and its goings on but also within ones own life

humour is about understanding or seeing things that others see but don't see the contridictions or as well the bigger picture we are all in sometimes
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 07:50 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

So on contemplating the spoon scenario above, I am tempted to say that one "philosophical aspect" of humour is the demonstration of the fragility of general agreements on "functionality" of concepts. I (of course) would take such fragility as a nail in the coffin of naive realism and an indicator of "reality as a social construction". There are also indicators of "holism". (The violin in the soup would not be as funny without the "musical spoon" setting up a gestalt).


Excellent, yes. Could you think of any more examples re. 'critiquing' the 'functionality' of concepts?
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 08:01 am
i don't know about the philosophy of humour, but i find many of the philosophy folks here quite humorous

if that helps any
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 10:14 am
@tsarstepan,
Quote:
But the science of jokes and humor is really counterproductive or at least how several authors on the subject I have heard talk about their research seem to imply. Once you start dissecting a joke, its components, its context, its target, etc... then the joke stops being funny.


Yeah, the main thing about this I suppose is that it takes away the unexpectedness.. which is the predominant element?
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 10:59 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Quote:
Could you think of any more examples re. 'critiquing' the 'functionality' of concepts?




Man goes into a bar with a pig under his arm.
BARMAN: Where did you get that ?
PIG: I won it in a raffle.

IAN PAISLEY (i.e Dave Allen) "AND THE WICKED SHALL BE CAST INTO THE PIT, AND THEY SHALL GNASH THEIR TEETH IN ANGUISH !
OLD WOMAN IN CONGREGATION: What if you've got no teeth ?
PAISLEY: TEETH SHALL BE PROVIDED !

I imagine there are dozens !










The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 08:39 pm
Thank you Fresco. Yes I imagine there are.
I'm trying to envisage how it works in more subtle cases. I might watch an episode of peep show and have a think.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 09:43 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
For insights into how humor works, I recommend Jonathan Miller's BBC features, which you may be able to find on BBC. Although not an academic philosopher, Miller is uniquely qualified for the task. He's a medical doctor who has studied the physiology of how laughter works. While studying medicine in Cambridge, he started up Beyond the Fringe, an influential comedy ensemble whose other four members were Peter Sellars, Dudley Moore, and Alan Bennett. He then went on to become one of Britain's most distinguished opera producers---you probably know him in that capacity---while producing a number of BBC features on all kinds of cultural and historical topics. Jonathan Miller is currently my favorite public intellectual in the world.

Here's the show I had in mind. YouTube divided it in three parts.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 10:32 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
While studying medicine in Cambridge, he started up Beyond the Fringe, an influential comedy ensemble whose other four members were Peter Sellars, Dudley Moore, and Alan Bennett.

Peter Cook, not Peter Sellars. My bad.
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Dec, 2010 07:46 am
Thank you Thomas, I shall watch those tomorrow morning.
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Dec, 2010 12:35 am
I watched it; it was really excellent. Thank you.
The delivery of a punch line: the specific point when the dual meaning of one specific language point is revealed. One thing which was odd is that I understood everything about why those anecdotes were funny, but did not actually find them that funny. Perhaps it is because I am young and the anecdotes were from the 70’s (were they?) But that in itself is quite telling- a difference in the way my mind is categorised…
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Apr, 2011 01:39 pm
@fresco,
Fresco, I remember it as follows:
The doctor is shocked upon entering the waiting room to see a patient sitting with a pig growing out of his head. The doctor exclaims, "How did that happen!" The pig answers "I don't know. It began as a pimple on my butt."
0 Replies
 
 

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