Humor and the virtues

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 31 (2):127 – 149 (1988)
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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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Citations of this work

The Ethics of Humor: Can Your Sense of Humor be Wrong?Aaron Smuts - 2010 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (3):333-347.
Racist Humor.Luvell Anderson - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (8):501-509.
Philosophy of humor.Joshua Shaw - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (2):112-126.

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References found in this work

Taking Laughter Seriously.John Morreall - 1983 - State University of New York Press.
The Philosophy of Laughter and Humor.John Morreall (ed.) - 1986 - State University of New York Press.
Racist Acts and Racist Humor.Michael Philips - 1984 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 14 (1):75-96.

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