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The Finite Province of Humorous Meaning: Preliminary Clarifications, Tension of Consciousness, Epoché, and Form of Spontaneity

  • Michael Barber
Chapter
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Part of the Contributions To Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 91)

Abstract

Humor possesses its aesthetic and subjective/objective dimensions, and its tension of consciousness is shown to be non-pragmatic, resistant to pragmatic seriousness. This lessened tension permits unconscious movements and affects to surface in oblique and disguised ways and depends upon spontaneous, passive associations that predominate over willed reactions, as the psychological theories of Freud and Bergson suggest. A comic epoché, which can include comic times and places, transposes interlocutors into the humorous province, within which they are withdrawn from everyday life and yet find themselves capable of penetrating insight into it insofar as what is familiar is defamiliarized. The form of spontaneity of humor can involve an intertwining of humorous and pragmatic intentional strands (as when one uses humor to achieve mastery over another person or group). The emancipation from pragmatic imperatives, then, results not only from adopting the humorous attitude but in finding oneself comic through the eyes of another different from oneself. Humor diminishes anxieties about death and failures at pragmatic mastery. It relies more on communicative signs than theory does and less on symbols than the religious province of meaning.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Barber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySaint Louis UniversitySaint LouisUSA

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