Publication Date

Fall 10-2016

Journal

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

Volume

74

Issue

4

First Page

347

Last Page

358

Abstract

In this article, I consider the standard interpretation of the superiority theory of humor attributed to Plato, Aristotle, and Hobbes, according to which the theory allegedly places feelings of superiority at the center of humor and comic amusement. The view that feelings of superiority are at the heart of all comic amusement is wildly implausible. Therefore textual evidence for the interpretation of Plato, Aristotle, or Hobbes as offering the superiority theory as an essentialist theory of humor is worth careful consideration. Through textual analysis I argue that not one of these three philosophers defends an essentialist theory of comic amusement. I also discuss the way various theories of humor relate to one another and the proper place of a superiority theory in humor theory in light of my analysis.