deepstash

Beta

For Henri Bergson, laughter is what keeps us elastic and free

Comic captures a lack of adaptability

Social life requires a delicate adjustment of the will and a constant corresponding adaptation between members of a group.

In general, we laugh at people who are either too eccentric or too inflexible to allow for society to evolve and better itself. At the source of the comical are expressions that laughter seeks to correct.

77 SAVES


This is a professional note extracted from an online article.

Read more efficiently

Save what inspires you

Remember anything

IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

For Henri Bergson, laughter is what keeps us elastic and free

For Henri Bergson, laughter is what keeps us elastic and free

https://aeon.co/essays/for-henri-bergson-laughter-is-what-keeps-us-elastic-and-free

aeon.co

5

Key Ideas

Humour in philosophy

  • Henri Bergson, a Fresh philosopher of the late 19th century, was also an author of a famous essay that focused on laughter. Before Bergson, few philosophers had given laughter much thought.
  • Other major thinkers who have offered humourless reflections about humour include Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes, who believed we laugh because we feel superior.
  • Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer argued that comedy stems from a sense of incongruity.
  • Herbert Spencer and Sigmund Freud suggested comedians give relief from nervous energy and repressed emotions.

Humour and respect

Everyone who ever had to explain their own joke knows that comedy cannot survive analysis. Once you take humour apart, it loses its effect and dies in the process.

Henri Bergson published his essay on laughter in 1900. He believed that laughter should be studied as 'a living thing' and treated with 'the respect due to life.'

Conditions for laughter to thrive

Henri Bergson's general observations related to when laughter is most likely to appear and thrive:

  • The comic is strictly human. When laughter is directed at non-humans, we may laugh, but only because we have detected some human attitude or expression.
  • Laughter has no greater foe than emotion. Emotional states like pity, melancholy, rage, etc. make it difficult for us to find humour in the things we might otherwise have laughed at. But humour also appears to serve as a coping mechanism in the face of tragedy or misfortune.
  • Laughter seems to require an echo. It is used in the context of social bonding.

Comic captures a lack of adaptability

Social life requires a delicate adjustment of the will and a constant corresponding adaptation between members of a group.

In general, we laugh at people who are either too eccentric or too inflexible to allow for society to evolve and better itself. At the source of the comical are expressions that laughter seeks to correct.

Why we notice the comical

  • Life never repeats itself. Therefore, when there is repetition or complete similarity, we always suspect some mechanism and are potentially witnessing the comical.
  • The comedic value of body-centered humour such as toilet humour and sexual innuendo lies in the fact that our attention is suddenly interrupted from the soul to the body.
  • Much of the word-based humour consists of taking words and phrases literally that we would generally use figuratively.
  • Laughter awakens us to the rigidity of certain personality traits or behaviours, and in doing so, discourages us from becoming too settled in our own ways.

EXPLORE MORE AROUND THESE TOPICS:

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The old Victorian picture style
The old Victorian picture style

If you have a look at Victorian pictures dating from the 19th century, you will soon enough realize that back then people did not really smile. The reason for this involves two elements:

    ...
The picture called 'A playful smile' (mid-1850s)

This picture is one of the earliest proofs that Victorians could also smile in photos.

The model is a young lady who poses typically for the period, however, letting a smile be seen on her face.

The 'Giggling gent' picture (c1889)

The picture shows a family who is captured a bit earlier than expected, fact that allows us to see everybody's natural laughter. This is what used to be known as 'Gigglemug' or 'habitually smiling face'.

5 more ideas

Humor during a crisis

For ancient Greek philosophers, humor was something that had the potential to undermine authority and the good order.

Today, in democratic societies, those in power are mocked and their p...

The power of laughter
  • Humor, in a way, protects us from life's grim reality. We joke because if we didn't, we'd cry.
  • Humor and laughing are also a social vocalization that includes some and excludes others. Jokes establish who is inside the group and who is not. We laugh with people to belong, and at others to exclude.
  • In our current crises, humor is everywhere because fear is too. Laughter binds us together against a common enemy.
When to joke

Poking fun at the ills of the world is only funny if they are considered benign. No one is making memes about child abuse that may increase during periods of enforced domestic isolation.

Observations about people's behavior can be funny if they poke fun at a social norm in a relatively inoffensive way, such as hoarding toilet paper.

The Peter Principle

Also known as The Peter principle of Incompetence, it claims that people who do their job well are promoted to positions of greater responsibility, and so on, until they reach a position in whic...

Dilbert Principle

The Dilbert Principle refers to the idea that incompetent employees are being promoted to prevent them from causing harm, since higher level positions don't need to be involved in the production of the company, while people that perform well are retained to production jobs, to keep the company going forward.

The Dilbert Principle is just a variation of the Peter Principle and critics think that this principle is only valuable for amusement. 

Dilbert

Is a famous comic strip created by  Scott Adams that shows a humorous look in office life, but also manifests lessons on behavioral economics.

In a series of cartoons published throughout the 1990s, he coined the term the Dilbert Principle. The concept was so successful that in 1996 the book “The Dilbert Principle” was created, which became very successful and it ended up selling over a million copies.