Ludovicis Theory Of Laughter

The outspoken English-born writer, Nietzschean philosopher, and intellectual Anthony Mario Ludovici (1882-1971) - who once described himself as taking "a fearless approach to the truth" - provides a "new theory of laughter" in which the roots of laughter are seen to lie in the triumph one attains over other people or circumstances. Such an idea-tional/theoretical basis for humor/laughter is included in a genre called superiority theories of humor. Ludovici maintains that laughter may be traced back to the snarls of triumph or mocking behavior that early humans made over a defeated adversary, and describes why assertion of superiority takes this particular form in behavior. Ludovici asserts that in the specific act of the "baring of the teeth" -where this behavior evolutionarily carried the function and nonverbal message in primitive humans and animals of warding off an enemy or establishing dominance - an interpretation may be made in modern humans that involves the notion of "superior adaptation." Based on such an evolutionary pattern involving aggression and attack, Ludovici"s theory of laughter refers to the audible aspect of laughter as "spiritualized snarlings" where human beings, also, show their teeth (as in the act of laughing) in all those situations in which they feel themselves to be "superiorly adapted." Thus, according to Ludovici's theory, the essence of laughter is the baring of the teeth, and he repeatedly uses the phrase "show teeth" as a synonym for "laugh" in his theory. However, a criticism of Ludovici's theory and its attendant "superior adaptation" notion may be found in the observations by ethologists that animals, at least, show their fangs most often when they are brought into a corner by a power, object, or animal that they fear is superior to themselves. Ludovici - who had no graduate degrees or university professorships -was virtually alone among Western thinkers; he wrote on the following diverse issues: the sickness afflicting modern art; arguments why men should not have given women the right to vote; arguments why democracy culminates in anarchy; discussion of evolutionary ethics that mankind needs for survival in a hostile universe; marriage should take place only among members of the same race ("like should marry like" - in personality, physiognomy, and racial type); interpretations of Nietzsche's writings; the Jewish role in Western societies; and the proper relationship between church and state. See also HUMOR, THEORIES OF; IZARD'S THEORY OF EMOTIONS; SUPERIORITY THEORIES OF HUMOR. REFERENCE

Ludovici, A. M. (1932). The secret of laughter. London: Constable & Co.

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