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Philosophy of Humor

The philosophy of anything is both descriptive and evaluative, examining what it is and how it fits into human life. The philosophy of art, for example, considers possible definitions of art and explores the value of art. This entry examines three traditional accounts of humor and its place in human life: the superiority, relief, and incongruity theories. Because the word humor did not have its current meaning associated with funniness until the 18th century, in searching for earlier ideas about humor, researchers look for other key words, such as laughter and comedy.

The Superiority Theory

In Western thought, the earliest documents that describe and evaluate humor were written by Plato in the 4th century BCE. They present laughter and comedy in a predominantly negative light as based ...

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