The analysis of humour

Abstract

INTRODUCTION Theories of humour are traditionally divided into two classes: superiority or relief theories, and incongruity or ambiguity theories. As their names imply, the former tend to ascribe amusement primarily to a particular attitude of mind, while the latter account for it by describing its objects as having a particular quality. Enjoyment as an attitude is always a response to an object present to the mind or feelings. If, then, enjoyment in amusement is identical with feelings of superiority or relief, its objects must always display characteristics of inferiority or inhibition. But the enjoyment of humour seems to be distinguishable from a reaction to particular kinds of topic, and from any personal relation felt between the subject and the objects of his amusement. Incongruity theories do not explicitly ascribe the enjoyment of humour to a particular range of topics

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