Laughter Theoretics 1/4
The superiority theory

Humour, Laughter, Theoretics

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In Ancient Times the Greek philosopher Plato was the first one to give an answer to the question why do people laugh. He stated that you are laughing because you are feeling better the person in front of you. According to Plato laughing equals laughing someone out.

After Plato many other people have been thinking about laughter and humour.

You laugh because you want to create a bond with the other person, to let the other person know how great you like him or her. If a friend tells you a good joke, you probably will laugh very loudly. But will you also laugh when the joke is being told by your not so friendly neighbor ?

Here is part 1 out of 4 about the different theories about humour.

The superiority theory.

One of the oldest theories about laughter comes from Plato and is called the superiority theory (Brandon, 2005). Plato was convinced that laughing had much to do with the bad side of human kind – where the person laughs at the misfortunes of others. Laughing comes forth out of the ignorance about oneself (Brandon, 2005). The person laughing thinks himself richer, handsomer, more upright and wiser than he is in reality. The laughter is directed at the inadequacy of the other person. Brandon (2005) suggests that Aristotle agreed with Plato that the idea of laughing in essence is a form of mockery. However, in contrast to Plato he does not totally condemn a humoristic attitude. Certain measures of humour can make life less dull or boring. He went on to say that human-kind has to be careful that one doesn’t laugh too much. Too much laughter can make one superficial when dealing with the more important matters of life (Morreall, 1983).


Brandon, A (2005), The Philosophy of Humor (link).
Morreall, John (1983), Taking laughter Seriously, State Univerity of New York Press, Albany, pp. 4-5

What do you think about this theory?

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