Hutchesons Theory Of Humor

In his theory of humor, the British philosopher Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) distinguishes between laughter and ridicule in which the latter is only a subspecies of the former. In Hutcheson's view, the occasion of laughter is the opposition or contrast of dignity and meanness. Hutcheson's theory of humor is based on the association of ideas (a phenomenon that was much discussed in the 18th century), and it suggests that comic genius is largely the ability to use somewhat inappropriate metaphors and similes to produce ideas that clash with each other. In this sense, then, Hutcheson may be said to have at least the beginnings of an incongruity theory of humor. Concerning the functions and value of humor, Hutcheson maintained that humor gives pleasure, it promotes mental flexibility, and it acts as a social facilitator. On occasion, Hutcheson took elaborate pains to refute Hobbes' theory of humor, using many counterexamples to show that there is no essential connection between having feelings of superiority and laughing or being amused. Thus, according to Hutcheson's approach, having feelings of superiority is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for experiencing humor. See also HOBBES' THEORY OF HUMOR/ LAUGHTER; HUMOR, THEORIES OF; IN-CONGRUITY/ INCONSISTENCY THEORIES OF HUMOR; SUPERIORITY THEORIES OF HUMOR. REFERENCE

Hutcheson, F. (1750). Reflections upon laughter. Glasgow: Urie.

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