We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Philosophical perspectives on humour and laughter

Lippitt, John (1991) Philosophical perspectives on humour and laughter. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This dissertation looks at some of the most important theories of humour and laughter, and aims to consider how successful or otherwise those theories have been in explaining these complex phenomena. After a general introduction in Chapter One, each of Chapters Two to Four offers an analysis of one of the three main theoretical traditions: what have been labelled the incongruity, superiority and release theories. Key figures in these traditions are Schopenhauer (incongruity), Hobbes (superiority) and Freud (release). My analyses are lengthy, constituting the bulk of the dissertation, because of the need to consider each theory in more detail than has been the case in previous, often very superficial, reviews. Each of them is ultimately rejected as an inadequate general theory, but the desirability of looking for what is of value in each theory; what light each does shed on humour and laughter, is stressed. During the brief interim conclusion, Chapter Five, key reasons for the failure of previous theories are emphasised, and a suggestion is made as to why any general, supposedly all-encompassing theory is likely to fail. The common temptation to offer yet another general theory is therefore resisted: after all, there are other interesting aspects of this subject to be considered. One such issue is taken up in Chapter Six. This final chapter explores the important connection between laughter, the sense of humour and individual freedom, by comparing and contrasting two views of the function of laughter: Bergson's theory of laughter as a social corrective, and Nietzsche's view that laughter is the appropriate response to the ultimate liberation of an individual.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Letters
Thesis Date:1991
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Dec 2012 12:07

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter