Philosophers Walk Into a Bar - A Seriously Silly Study of Humor's Evolution

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Philosophers Walk into a Bar is an entertaining read filled with dorky jokes and shallowly explained philosophy that serves as a welcome distraction. Each chapter explores a different branch of metaphysics or epistemology through humorous commentary that brings its concepts alive.

From Existentialism and Free Will to Logic, this course covers it all! A must for those wishing they'd taken Philosophy at school!

What is Humor?

Humor remains an understudied subject in philosophy despite its popularity, due to philosophers' perception of it as being unthinkingly nonsensical. Understanding humor as play allows us to overcome objections raised against its practice while also uncovering some of its benefits.

Many theories exist regarding what makes something funny, with some emphasizing incongruity between an idea and its perception, tension relief or sudden "getting" of how incongruous details fit together, and humor as a way of settling differences positively. All these theories capture some aspect of what's amusing but none fully explain it.

Humor research (which incorporates insights from psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology, and film studies) highlights that multiple factors may play a part in creating humorous expression. Laughter requires using complex symbols, often composed of words. Their subtle connotations can change the meaning of any joke drastically. One theory suggests that humorous expressions serve primarily to notify other members of an immediate social group that any discrepancies or anomalies detected by individuals are trivial (Ramachandran, 1998). This function could have evolved as an evolutionary mechanism to reduce stress hormone release such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol that would normally occur in response to threats such as dangerous animals or enemies.

Humor as a Tool

There are various theories about what makes something funny, from more complex models such as Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren's benign violation to theories focusing on superiority or relief which fail to account for certain types of humor, such as slapstick. One such theory developed by these two is called benign violation - suggesting humor arises when our mental patterns are violated in an incongruent manner, leading us into unexpected territory that makes us laugh out loud.

Other theories attempt to understand humor from an evolutionary viewpoint. Anthropologist Gil Greengross noted that laughter and humor can be found throughout human and nonhuman animal societies alike, from apes to rats - suggesting it may play an essential part of social behavior.

Humor can help break down barriers between people, making communication easier, as well as promote rationality and alleviate stressful situations by altering our perceptions of them. Furthermore, humor can also serve to alleviate irrational fears and anger by making them seem less serious.

But there can be risks involved with using humor in the classroom. Some students may become offended by certain forms of humor based on negative stereotypes about certain groups or individuals; there is also the chance that jokes might be misconstrued as intended to insult or demean.

Humor as a Metaphor

Humor can often be defined as a form of incongruity. According to philosopher John Morreall, humor involves an unexpected delight that "splits our brain's mental patterns and expectations". Incongruities often manifest themselves by leaping between two planes or contexts that are otherwise separate.

Metaphors provide an effective means to explore associative contexts. Unlike regular language, metaphors contain additional layers of meaning; for instance, Wood's favorite metaphor describes the gap between her Dad's thighs as "like a portal into another dimension," making this highly figurative metaphor engaging and amusing.

Although this approach to humor may provide some insights, it doesn't completely address why we find jokes funny or explain the various emotions associated with humor. For instance, many individuals find bizarre or macabre images funny while finding banal or trivial images amusing; such differences suggest something other than incongruity needs to explain these different experiences associated with laughter.

Frame shifting provides one potential avenue for understanding the origins of humor. While this theory has existed for some time now, scientists only recently began conducting tests of its effectiveness. According to this theory, one's perception of humor depends on triggering both socially acceptable dominant frames and subversive alternative frames in their brain simultaneously.

Humor as a Taboo

Humor can be an effective tool in breaking taboos. A taboo refers to subjects that are socially unacceptable to discuss; these might include topics like sex, death or certain food products. When something is considered taboo, people typically refrain from discussing or engaging in activities related to that topic.

When jokes or humorous events challenge someone's sense of how things should be, they may feel unnerved and threatened, prompting them to try to understand it in some way. Some theories of humor attempt to explain this phenomenon by suggesting something funny when it is both wrong and harmless - such as clowns pulling pranks on one another or comedians saying offensive lines in their comedic act.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a book intended to teach about various philosophers and their ideas through jokes. This book would be ideal for anyone interested in philosophy who doesn't want to read an overwhelming textbook; its divided into sections that cover each philosopher or philosophical idea in turn with jokes as introductions before discussing its philosophical foundation. Most useful when looking to gain basic knowledge in metaphysics and existentialism philosophy.

Humor as a Metaphysics

Anyone who has attended a philosophy class or read joke books knows that philosophers can be quite amusing (it's practically an axiom!). So why don't we laugh more at their clever wordplay and humorous remarks? In their new book, Daniel Klein and Thomas Cathcart argue that we should do just that--humor can help us better comprehend philosophical ideas themselves!

Humor is a form of play, and adopting an informal philosophy approach can help us overcome many traditional philosophical objections. By viewing humor as play we can start to see its connections to many philosophical topics--and how philosophers themselves used humor as an argumentative device to make their points.

Hurley, Dennett and Adams propose that humor evolved as a means of strengthening our brain's capacity for finding errors in active belief structures--or more broadly put, to detect when our reasoning is off base. This theory is supported by research in cognitive psychology (such as Dedre Gentner's structure mapping theory; Arthur Koestler's "incongruity" theory and George Lakoff's embodied cognition theory).

Spencer proposes that humor allows us to release pent-up energy of our innately mechanical, animalistic natures. However, this theory runs into complications when under stress: we seem less open to humor at these times - maybe humor helps retrain our reactions so we are better able to appreciate its presence even during situations that would otherwise cause anxiety or stress?

Humor as a Symbol

Humor is an invaluable character strength that can bring great pleasure to those around us, by using laughter to spread joy. People with this strength often enjoy spreading smiles to those they meet, seeing the funny side in every situation and finding ways to find comedic value in every experience. Humor also helps people become more resilient by showing that life's ups and downs are part of its cycle, providing playfulness and lightheartedness as an antidote for stress or depression.

Many theories have been proposed to explain humor's evolutionary function, such as its origin in suppressed negative emotions or people finding amusement in misfortune or expression of forbidden feelings, while another theory proposes it occurs when there is an unexpected deviation from expectation.

Some theorists suggest that humor arose as a means of creating social bonds, with laughter signaling to others that you share similar worldviews, preferences and convictions to build bonds of belongingness among group members.

Humor can be used as a powerful tool to accelerate learning and enhance performance in work environments. Research indicates that people skilled at humor possess superior communication abilities and make more effective leaders within organizations due to its ability to reduce tension and encourage group cohesiveness, leading to higher productivity levels overall.


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