David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Inquiry 31 (2):127 – 149 (1988)
Five dimensions of amusement are ethically searched: incongruity, perspectivity, dissociation, enjoyment, and freshness. Amusement perceives incongruities and virtues are formally congruities between one's character and one's nature. An ethical sense of humor is a sense for incongruities between people's behavior and character, and their telos. To appreciate any humor one must adopt a perspective, and in the case of ethical amusement this is the standpoint of one who possesses the virtues. In being amused at the incongruity of some human foible, one is dissociated from it, and adopts a ?higher? perspective. Thus a sense of humor about one's own foibles is a capacity of character?transcendence; but character?transcendence is basic to the very concept of a moral virtue. The prima facie moral dubiousness of enjoying failures of human fulfilment leads to placing certain restrictions on such enjoyment: a sense of humor cannot be a virtue unless allied with compassion and hope. Finally, amusement implies a certain vivacity of perception of the incongruity in question. It is thus a way, not merely of knowing or judging that certain things are fitting and others not, but of ?seeing? that
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