You may be surprised to learn that until the last few centuries, most people saw laughter as indicative of a flaw or even a medical condition, a sign that the so called "humors" were out of balance. The Greeks and the early Christian church were both quite suspicious of too much laughter.
Let's start by getting an overview of the major ways philosophers and other theorists have attempted to explain humor and laughter over the centuries.
After you have checked out this background, share some thoughts. Which theory of humor makes the most sense to you? Which one surprised you most? Can you use one of these theories to explain a joke you have heard?
After you respond, you will be able to see other people. Respond to at least two people, preferably one who selected the same theory that you did, and one who picked something else. This conversation will work best if you start it earlier in the week, so you are able to come back and see what else is there to respond to.
Here's an example of applying a theory. When Dr. Welsh's daughter Kelsey was in high school, this was her favorite joke
We can explain this joke by turning to superiority theory. In one of her classes, Kelsey had just learned about Rene Descartes, a French philosopher who is well known for saying,"I think, therefore I am." Kelsey felt good and maybe even a little superior because she knew there was a philosopher who associated thinking with existence, and she could figure out that if he "thought not" he would not exist.
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