Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor

Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor by John Morreall

PN 6149 .P5 M67 2009

“Western philosophy’s traditional assessment of the nature and value of humor has not been kind, as the standard theories made humor look antisocial, irrational, and foolish. It wasn’t until well into the 20th century that humor gained even a semblance of respect. Comic Relief goes a great way toward ameliorating this injustice. Noted philosophical humor writer John Morreall develops a comprehensive theory that integrates psychological, aesthetic, and ethical issues relating to humor. He also presents and critiques the standard Superiority, Incongruity, and Relief Theories of humor, revealing how they not only fail to explain its nature, but actually support traditional prejudices against humor. While utilizing elements from traditional theories of humor, Morreall goes into much greater depth about the opposition between amusement and emotions, the cognitive and practical disengagement in humor, the psychological and social benefits of humor, and the comic vision of life itself. He further argues that humor’s benefits overlap significantly with those of philosophy, concluding that philosophy’s traditional rejection of humor has been an egregious error. Informed by scholarly research, Comic Relief is an enlightening and accessible foray into the serious business of humor.” –publisher description.

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