Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Philosophy


Philosophy and Religion

First Advisor

Robert Westmoreland

Second Advisor

Timothy P. Yenter

Third Advisor

Steven Skultety

Relational Format



This thesis defends a weak version of the superiority theory of humor: the superiority theory explains some instances of humor better than the incongruity theory. This thesis features an overview of the philosophy of humor in ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophy; this section contains criticisms of the incongruity theory. Connections between the superiority theory and humor about death are explored. Parallels are then drawn between this type of humor and Aristotle's great-souled man. A new type of laughter, jubilant laughter, is subsequently identified as being similar to laughter classified under the superiority theory since both exhibit a triumphant quality. But there is an important difference between the two: humor classified under the superiority theory involves a comparison with others while jubilant laughter does not. Finally, the implications of the superiority theory on the ethics of humor are examined, and ethical norms are adapted from Aristotle's account of the great-souled man.

Included in

Philosophy Commons



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