Christopher Gontar: “The Falsity of Hurley’s False-Belief Theory of Humor”

Matthew Hurley has advanced the most extensive global “false belief” theory of humor. He attempts to put this kind of humor theory on firm ground and gives the appearance of diligent self-criticism. Yet the basis or stimulus of humor is not ordinary and unmotivated error, but a vicious kind, and the source of our amusement is never in the moment of our own discovery of anything, qua discovery. Hurley’s theory of “covert entry” of belief is also plainly false. A plausible model of humor’s essence is the intuitive response to vicious delusion, with the response (amused laughter) being, arguably, an involuntary imitation of this condition.

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