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Authors

Peter H. Karlen

Abstract

Part I of this article advances a new theory of humor, the Enlightenment Theory, while contrasting it with other main theories, including the Incongruity, Repression/Relief/Release, and Superiority Theories. The Enlightenment Theory does not contradict these other theories but rather subsumes them. As argued, each of the other theories cannot account for all the aspects of humor explained by the Enlightenment Theory. The discussion is illustrated with examples of humor and explores the acts and circumstances of humor, its literary and artistic expressions, and its physical reactions. Part II shows how the Enlightenment Theory meets challenging issues in humor theory where other theories sometimes falter, including issues such as failed humor, motivation for humor, tickling, laughing gas, and sadistic humor. Also mentioned are literary and musical humor and the relationship of wit to humor

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Esthetics Commons

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