Humor and Ignorance in the Perspective of Cognitive Niche Curation

Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 56)


The Incongruity Theory of humor suggests that humor is triggered by the perception of something incongruous. The recognition of ignorance amounts to recognizing an incongruity between one’s actual knowledge (or lack thereof) and what ought to be known about that particular issue. In many cases, the explicit or implicit recognition of ignorance is cause for humor and laughter. In this paper, I will propose that humor can be understood as a social modality of signaling an instance of ignorance and urging its resolution: referring to the theory of cognitive niche construction, I will claim that humor out of ignorance is a niche curation technique, aimed at improving the quality of the niche by keeping the ignorant in line but without excluding them from participating to common niche-construction activities.


Ignorance Applied epistemology Cognitive niche construction Humor 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities, Philosophy SectionUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Mind & Society CenterUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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