Author Topic: Incongruity Theory  (Read 564 times)

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The Last Messiah

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Incongruity Theory
« on: January 02, 2020, 10:22:00 pm »
Arthur Schopenhauer is generally held to be the father of incongruity theory. He argued that "laughter always arises from nothing other than the suddenly perceived lack of congruence between a concept and the real objects". Like the two other major theories incongruity theory now comes in many guises and Schopenhauer's particular brand of incongruity (between a concept and the real object) can be seen as merely one variant.

While I have begun a slow and relaxing rereading of Book Four of The World as Will and Representation, I am also collecting writings by some contemporary thinkers to help me bring some of Schopenhauer's theories into the fabric of my day to day, moment by moment existence.    Of course, since I find existence to be absurd, I would be drawn to humor and comedy.

I found Incongruity Theory and the Explanatory Limits of Reason by Ian Jaeger Straus.

From the Introduction:

Quote
I will examine ... formulations set forth by Kant and Schopenhauer in the 18th and 19th centuries. I will show that incongruity theory provides a relatively reliable framework for analyzing humor in spite of several important criticisms I will level against it. Finally, I will examine the relationship between humor as described by incongruity theory, reason, and the brand of philosophical absurdity identified by Thomas Nagel. By applying incongruity theory to foundational yet persistently unanswerable metaphysical questions about existence, death, God,etc.,

I will show that humor not only bears a close relationship to these issues but that humor also serves as a means by which we can engage and cope with the unsolvable nature of these problems.

I was also searching for someone who might have shared my idea that one might sometimes discover in Schopenhauer something of the humorist.

What I found in a short essay by Charles Johnston called A Word on Schopenhauer (circa 1904) is the following:

Quote from: Charles Johnston
...  I shall never forget the thrill of relief that throbbed through the room, when, the lecture ended, I ventured to say that Schopenhauer seemed to me very much misunderstood; for I always thought him a great humorist, only he had not yet been found out.

< ... >

In sober truth, Schopenhauer’s great achievement in philosophy has hardly anything to do with pessimism at all, or, indeed with optimism either. In connecting his name with pessimism, the general opinion has made one of those mistakes, due to the heresy of insufficient knowledge, which make one doubt the validity of popular fame. To understand what Schopenhauer really did, one must consider for a moment what point philosophy had reached when he began his work.

Read the full (short) essay to see that Johnston thinks Schopenhauer is an optimistic pessimist ...  ???

Then there was a talk with the title The Pessimist as a Humorist. Schopenhauer and his literary heirs ...

missed it:

Der Pessimist als Humorist. Schopenhauer und seine literarischen Erben
Lesung und Gespräch von und mit Achim Engstler
10. Oktober 2019 (Donnerstag), 19:30 Uhr, +Punkt.Kirche INF 130, Im Neuenheimer Feld 130.2, 69120 Heidelberg.

The Pessimist as a Humorist. Schopenhauer and his literary heirs
Reading and discussion by and with Achim Engstler
10. October 2019 (Thursday), 19:30 O'clock, +Punkt.Church INF 130, im neuenheimer feld 130.2, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.

Quote
Optimismus und Gottvertrauen beruhigen das Gemüt, große Literatur befördern sie selten. Wenn alles zum Besten steht, gibt es keinen Anlaß zur Gestaltung. Wird das menschliche Leben hingegen als sinnlos empfunden, bedarf es, um durchzuhalten, der Distanzierung: zum Beispiel einer Perspektive, aus der das Absurde lächerlich erscheint. Die Posse, die gelesen werden kann, ist leichter zu ertragen als die, die gelebt werden muß. Insbesondere Arthur Schopenhauer hat eine Vielzahl bedeutender Autoren in diesem Sinne inspiriert. Philosophischer Pessimismus wird zur literarischen Einbildungskraft. Der Vortrag erläutert diesen Zusammenhang, nach einer kurzen Einführung in Schopenhauers Denken, an Texten von Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard und Yasmina Reza.

Dr. Achim Engstler ist Literaturwissenschaftler, Philosoph und literarischer Autor. Nach Lehrtätigkeiten an verschiedenen Universitäten arbeitet er seit 1997 freiberuflich. Aus seiner Schreibgemeinschaft mit der Autorin Astrid Dehe sind bislang sieben gemeinsame Bücher hervorgegangen, zuletzt »Der flüchtige Ruhm des Herrn Neubronner« (München, dtv 2017). Engstler ist Mitglied im PEN-Zentrum Deutschland und derzeit Stipendiat des Deutschen Literaturfonds.

Die Veranstaltung wird unterstützt vom »Freundeskreis Literaturhaus Heidelberg
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Optimism and trust in God calm the mind, great literature rarely promote them. When everything is in order, there is no reason for design. If human life, on the other hand, is perceived as meaningless, it requires distancing in order to endure: for example, a perspective from which the absurd appears ridiculous. The Posse, which can be read, is easier to bear than the one that has to be lived. Arthur Schopenhauer in particular has inspired a large number of important authors in this sense. Philosophical pessimism becomes a literary imagination. After a short introduction to Schopenhauer's thinking, the lecture explains this connection with texts by Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard and Yasmina Reza.

Dr. Achim Engstler is a literary scholar, philosopher and literary author. After teaching at various universities, he has been working as a freelancer since 1997. Seven books have emerged from his writing partnership with the author Astrid Dehe, most recently "der flüchtige Ruhm des Herrn Neubronner" (Munich, DTV 2017). Engstler is a member of the PEN Centre Germany and currently a scholarship holder of the German Literature Fund.

The event is supported by the " Freundeskreis Literaturhaus Heidelberg
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 10:52:47 pm by { ... } »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

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The Last Messiah

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Re: Incongruity Theory
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2021, 05:26:56 am »
One of the best comedies I remember seeing the theater as a child was Young Frankenstein.

Humor just might save us from ourselves, in the long run.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p5AG0Tqh3A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXGzO2aDDRU
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

The Last Messiah

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  • Life teaches me not to want it.
    • What Now?
« Last Edit: May 19, 2021, 02:20:06 pm by Deep Truth »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

The Last Messiah

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  • Life teaches me not to want it.
    • What Now?
Re: Incongruity Theory
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2021, 03:55:27 am »
A quick, down and dirty joke from Incongruity Theory and the Explanatory Limits of Reason (page 10-11):

Quote
Incongruity Theory at Work

Before diving into an in-depth analysis of incongruity theory, let's illustrate the account by showing how it can explain the funniness of a handful of short jokes. Here's an old standby that strikes me as pretty amusing.

Quote
An 80 year-old man goes into the confessional and tells the priest, "Father, I am an 80 year-old man, I'm married, I have 4 children and 11 grandchildren. Last night I strayed and had an affair with two beautiful 23 year-old girls. We partied and made love all night long."

The priest says, "This is very serious, my son. When was the last time you were at confession?"

The old man says, "Well, Father, I'm Jewish. So I've never been to confession before."

The priest says, "You're Jewish? Then why are you here telling me this?"

"I'm telling everyone!"
     :D

It's relatively straightforward to see how incongruity theory explains why many people find this joke amusing. In the West, at least, there are certain widely-held conceptual patterns governing the understanding of the institution of marriage and the sanctity and sobriety of the confessional as a religious space. We also understand the stereotypical sexual appeal of two beautiful young women to an old man who is long past his sexual peak. What this joke does, however, is show how the old man has, according to the norms of western society, incorrectly ordered the importance of sexual desire, religious austerity, and the sanctity of his marriage. The carelessness and glee with which he cheats on his wife strikes those of us who find this joke funny as incongruous. Furthermore, the old man's wildly inappropriate decision to use a sacred occasion like confession to brag about his sexual conquests is incongruous in virtue of the very nature of Catholic confession, an institution commonly associated with sincerity, guilt, and forgiveness. Finally, and perhaps most amusingly, is the incongruity between our conceptual understanding of the confessional as a place that is absolutely private and personal and the old man's use of it as just another place to "tell everybody".
   
« Last Edit: June 19, 2021, 03:57:57 am by Deep Truth »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~