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Humor: The Self, Sociality, Temporality

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

Abstract

Consciousness in humor is bifurcated, over against the working self in which it had been immersed. In contrast to the working self, the humorous self is delighted by unfulfilled expectations, and it functions flexibly, in rebellion or resignation, freeing the working self from its anxieties while it pursues pragmatic goals or from its recriminations should it fail to realize them. Humor is operative within religion and in relationship to one’s body, and it provides perspective upon the experience of what Simon Critchley calls the “abject” body that pointedly disillusions the ego agens. It can relieve one from the seriousness of rehabilitation in reaction to addiction—a seriousness that often undermines rehabilitation. Social relations within humor depend upon roles and upon an intimacy that results when parties build from scratch their relationship in the face of the dangers to relationship that occur insofar as with the humorous sphere the ordinary rules of politeness do not apply and aggressions can be expressed, albeit obliquely. Humor affects political relationships, and it is expressed through traditions, as Jewish and African-American styles of humor illustrate. As far as the time-perspective of humor is concerned, the figures in humorous fables are often timeless, and an unusual temporal paradox occurs when one discovers after the fact that one has been involved for a period of time in a humorous interchange with an interlocutor who gave no indication that might have served as an epoché.

To complete the discussion of humor we need to address the three remaining features of its cognitive style, that it, its specific forms of: experiencing one’s self, sociality, and time.

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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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