Theory of Humor

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The standard humor theories can be classified into three basic groups: incongruity, superiority, and relief theories. The incongruity theory states that humor is perceived at the moment of realization of incongruity between a concept involved in a certain situation and the real objects thought to be in some relation to the concept. Aristotle, Kant and Schopenhauer have contributed to it. The relief theory describes humor along the lines of a tension-release model. According to Herbert Spencer and Sigmund Freud, humorous laughter involves a release of tension or energy. The superiority theory claims that humor in many cases involves a feeling of superiority (according to Hobbes the „sudden glory“ arising from some sudden conception of some superiority in ourselves, by comparison with others).

In the Society of Mind model, an incongruity can be modelled as a dispute or discussion between agents, where agents or coalitions of agents contradict each other. Humor and laughter arise from the resolution of such conflicts.


  • Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Humor
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