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You have to 'be there' : a Heideggerean phenomenology of humour

In this thesis, it is my intention to use Heideggerean phenomenology to build an account of two seemingly disparate areas of humour. Firstly, humour that arises out of a shift between ontological categories - specifically, between the ‘human’ and the ‘object,’ on one hand, and the ‘human’ and the ‘animal’ on the other; and, secondly, between objects and bodies failing. In doing so, I hope to elucidate the ‘hermeneutic condition’ of all humour, understood in Heidegger’s terms as the phenomenon of world. A hermeneutic condition is not to be thought of along the vein of a ‘necessary and sufficient condition’ of something being comical. There have been a number of attempts to try to pinpoint such a condition, with theories gravitating towards the ‘big three’ of incongruity, superiority and release. Personally, I am not convinced that there is such a condition - I think it more likely that certain types of humour share some traits, but there are no traits shared by all humour that can act as a marker that humour is afoot. Similarly, a hermeneutic condition should not be understood as a causal condition - I am not claiming that something is funny because of this condition. Rather, my suggestion is that the phenomenon of world is a necessary condition of humour’s intelligibility – we are the sort of creatures that can make and comprehend jokes because we are in-the-world, in Heidegger’s sense. I will suggest that it is only for Dasein that either getting the joke or failing to get the joke is a possibility, and this is precisely because only Dasein has this hermeneutic condition. Developing this claim necessitates the pursuit of a thoroughly worlded phenomenology, and to that end I want to suggest Heidegger’s work as an ideal foundation. Moreover, I will suggest that the humanlike objects and animals which amuse us are tacitly playing with this being-in-the-world, and the object and body failing has the potential to disclose this nature of this world to us. In this way, I hope to demonstrate that there is much to be gained from the phenomenological analysis of these two types of humour.
Date January 2013
CreatorsMay, Shaun
PublisherCentral School of Speech and Drama
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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