Sunday, October 11, 2009

Herbert Spencer's Humor

Herbert Spencer utilizes a great deal of his philosophy on laughter in describing the physiology of laughter itself. He describes it as a "reflex action." Repressed "[emotions reflect back, accumulate, and intensify.]" What Spencer states here is that laughter arises through certain thoughts. Muscular movements then cease the mental thought. Such reflex is caused by expectations of descending incongruity, meaning, "consciousness is unawares transferred from great things to small." Let's say, for instance, that your brother, whom you often worry about, informs you that he lost his job, that's why he isn't at work when he should be. Thoughts begin to plague your mind: what will he do now? He has to feed his two children, how will he find another job? His whole family will starve; they're going to lose the house--"Just kidding," he says, suddenly, "I took the afternoon off." You feel relieved, but all that "nervous energy" must be released. Therefore, you laugh...or smack him.

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