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Theories of Humour

  1. Apr 13, 2012 #1
    Out of all the theories, I find the "Benign Violation Theory" to be most promising.
    Lets see if somebody got some counter examples?
    Also, whats the Industry Standard Theory, if there is any such thing. ?

    P.S. Philosophy forum seems too tough to get entry.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2012 #2
    Humor is a topic in catastrophe theory. Imagine a curve in the shape of the letter S on the x-y plane. Extend the end of the curve at the upper right with a straight line to positive infinity and the end at the lower right with a straight line to negative infinity. This is not the graph of a function since it is multi-valued in some places. Imagine gravity pointing in the -y direction and an ant traveling to the left from positive infinity. At some point the ant will reach the curvy part and fall to the line headed for negative infinity. We will laugh because such fallings down are funny. But there is something more fundamental going on. The ant passed through the region of multiple values to the region of a single value. This kind of transition is studied in catastrophe theory. Humor is when we are following a path along a single meaning of a narative that has alternate meanings. When the punchline drags us over the edge to a different path of meaning we laugh. Examples include puns where the multiple values come from homonyms, and knock-knock jokes where a proper noun is one value and an improper one the other. I think that with most humor, you can find that at the punchline, a passage of this type is being made.
  4. Apr 13, 2012 #3
  5. Apr 13, 2012 #4
    I would guess there is a root to humor, that precedes language & culture.

    I think humor is to complex to say it's of this or that kinda reasoning, but I do agree with Jimmy / I_am_learning, it is rooted in reasoning.

    Perhaps too laugh makes it clear to the brain, DON'T MAKE THIS CONNECTION; IT IS FALSE, maybe why I like jokes about me being short.

    I think monkeys laugh too.

    Oh and hyenas. :smile:
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  6. Apr 13, 2012 #5
    How about the "fuzzy logic" theory of humor. The brain has been compared to a fuzzy logic computer with IBM's new neuromorphic computer chip being perhaps the most advanced fuzzy logic chip thus far. Unlike a conventional computer it can't crash or show a blue screen of death and doing so too frequently would be counter survival anyway. Laughter then could be categorized as a physical feedback system that forces the system to reboot if necessary to escape any causal loops. Already if your computer over heats it will reboot. With a fuzzy logic computer prolonged laughter would force it to reboot and shift the focus of the data processing elsewhere. A built in error detection system that is context sensitive and easily measured.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  7. Apr 14, 2012 #6
    Since we find humour in lots of diverse situations, The best theory should apparently present a method to generate jokes from raw inputs.
    There could be some computer program, which you feed raw inputs like
    <Car, Wife, Rainy Day>
    And it will generate a Joke from these 3 ingredients.
  8. Apr 14, 2012 #7
    The fuzzy logic concept I'm talking about is contextual explaining why people find different things funny to different degrees. The Tao Te Ching expresses it this way:

    When the great man learns the Way, he follows it with diligence;
    When the common man learns the Way, he follows it on occasion;
    When the mean man learns the Way, he laughs out loud;
    Those who do not laugh, do not learn at all.

    All Taoist texts are written in a highly paradoxical style that encourages the reader to interpret the text for themselves by choosing from a number of different possible interpretations. One interpretation they all possess is a subtle tongue in cheek sense of humor and sages are often depicted with a smile bordering on laughter as if they find life itself mildly humorous. The issue is the subtlety of their sense of humor and its correlation to personal growth rather then what constitutes a joke and what doesn't.
  9. Apr 20, 2012 #8
    Here's a theory of humor and laughter for you, from the philosopher Raymond Smullyan.
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