Theories Of Laughter

1247 Words3 Pages
A man casually walks down the street with a skip to his step and a smile on his face. While staring at the clouds, he whistles a serene tune. Bam! The man trips on a jutted piece of sidewalk. With his limbs failing he comical collapses onto the ground. The neighbors cannot help but to laugh from his humorous fall. The man giggles along with the crowd and then continues on his merry way. This scene whether appropriate or inappropriate causes laughter. The man in the story, could have potentially been injured, but yet people laugh anyway. They feel superior to the man that tripped and laugh from seeing weakness in him. Similarly, many cartoons emphasize humor based on the dichotomy between superiority and inferiority. Common cartoons, like Looney He points out that the philosophical study of humor is focused on determining “what has to be true of something in order for it to count as assuming” (Morreall 7). The study has shifted from identifying the theories to now explaining the psychological reasoning behind humor and laughter. Philosophers want to know what does a situation have to satisfy to cause laughter. Over the years, three theories have emerged, the Superiority, Incongruity, and Relief Theory. Morreall particularly focuses on the Superiority Theory. Combining the philosophical ideas of Plato, Thomas Hobbes, and Roger Scruton, this theory claims that “laughter expresses feelings of superiority” (Morreall 6). Laughter comes from feeling better than someone else, like neighbors laughing at the man tripping on the sidewalk in the earlier story. His neighbors could laugh because they are not in his position. The man embarrassed himself in front the whole neighborhood and got a scraped-up knee from doing so. On the other hand, his neighbors are happily sitting on their porches, free from embarrassment in front of fellow peers and have no bruises from a fall. Since they are socially and physically superior to this man, they find the situation
Open Document