This is a sequel to a previous paper (Aharoni 2018), in which I suggested that the game of humour is played not between two meanings of the same carrier, but between meaning and its carrier: the two are detached from each other by some means. In the present paper I want to substantiate this thesis by some evidence, the main one being referred to in the title of the paper. It is that two well-known theories of humour, both presently neglected to a large extent, are based on this mechanism. In both the carrier of meaning is not words, but actions. In fact, one of the main messages of the paper is that often the carrier of meaning in jokes, and in humour in general, are actions. I will try to show that both Bergson’s “automatic behaviour” theory and the superiority (or derision) theory are based on detachment of empathy, namely of identification. Since, as I will try to show, empathy and identification are man’s (and even animals’) main tool in deciphering meanings of actions, this results in detaching actions from their meanings.
Aharoni, R. (2018). ‘From meaning to carrier – a common denominator for three strains of
Humour’, The European Journal of Humour Research 6:3, 13-29.
Aristotle. (1895). Poetics. New York: Macmillan.
Bergson, H. (1900), Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. New York: Macmillan.
Bergson, H. (1907), ‘Creative evolution,’ English version: (1911) tr. Arthur Mitchell, Henry Holt and Company, NY.
Gruner, C. R. (1999), The Game of Humour: A Comprehensive Theory of Why We Laugh, Transaction Publishers.
Hobbes, T. (1650). Human Nature. Reprinted in (Morreall, 1987).
Hutcheson, F. (1750), Reflections Upon Laughter, and Remarks on the Fable of the Bees, Glasgow: R. Urie.
Koestler, A. (1964). The Act of Creation. Penguin Books, New York.
Morreall, J. (ed.) (1987). The Philosophy of Laughter and Humour. Albany: NY, State Univ. Press.
Morreall, J. (2008). ‘Philosophy and religion’, in A Primer of Humour Research, Victor Raskin, ed., Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Plato. Philebus. Reprinted in (Morreal, 1987).
Raskin V. (1985). Semantic Mechanisms of Humour. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.
Rizzolatti, G. & Craighero, L. (2004). ‘The mirror-neuron system.’ Annual Review of Neuroscience (27) pp. 169-192.
Tsakona, V. (2017), ‘Humour research and humour reception: Far away, so close’, in Humorous Discourse, Chlopicki, W. Brzozowska, D., (eds.) Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter, pp. 179-201.