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Title: You have to 'be there' : a Heideggerean phenomenology of humour
Author: May, Shaun
Awarding Body: Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Central School of Speech & Drama
Date of Award: 2013
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Performance art