why do we laugh?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by snowflake, Mar 15, 2003.

  1. ben nevis Registered Senior Member

    I once had a dog that could laugh and a wife who could bark. My house was never burgled.
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  3. Bebelina kospla.com Valued Senior Member

    Fraggle, I think you made a too big deal of this.
    I think it is very common to think ahead of a situation where you might find yourself in an argument with another person or in just a discussion, or in any other situation with another person, it is called daydreaming.

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    And the persons I'm talking too aren't imaginary versions of me, they are actual persons that I encounter in life. Then I might get annoyed about something in their behaviour, or we may disagree on something. The later, when I come home, with the discussion still fresh in mind, I continue it, without the other person. Because I have fairly good idea of what arguments that other person would present to me.
    I mean, haven't you ever imagined what you would say if you met somebody you admire or dislike? It's like that.
    And all the conversations aren't quarrels, they can often be of a more pleasant kind too. But since I like to solve problems, quarrels are more satisfying to imagine. Like solving crosswords. And they definitely present me with a larger amount of humour than the pleasant ones. In retrospective they can be quite hilarious.
    I'm not making these situations up because I have a poor social life, it's just a cleansing of the mind when I'm brushing my teeth. I'm multitasking or whatever..

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    Unfortunately I often win arguments in real life, because I'm so utterly smart

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    but I can't enjoy them, because I'm too humble for that...eeh, well I am. I often feel ashamed for proving someone wrong, or getting my will trough.
    But then again, if you have the worldview that the world is only a projection of yourself, then the other persons would be other versions of the self. But then not only the ones in your memory or thoughts but the flesh and blood ones that you can touch too.

    Neville, now who is reeeaaally nuts?

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  5. Nebula Occasionally Frequent Registered Senior Member


    I know what you mean! I always make up dialogues in my head between me and other people, usually my adversaries.

    I try and anticipate how they would react to a comment I haven't made yet, then I think of how to respond, etc.

    Then when the dialogue never happens, I get dissapointed.
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  7. Bebelina kospla.com Valued Senior Member

    But when they do, you know EXACTLY what to say.
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Daydreams and night dreams

    No, I obviously didn't express my point very well. It would be dangerous to go to that extreme.

    I was merely thinking on the keyboard about something I find myself doing and the insight I got into my own personality by analyzing it that way. I guess in my case I can apply dream analysis to daydreams. In real night dreams you actually are unconscious and most of the people in it really are little parts of your own spirit that finally get a chance to talk to you. Unless it's a close family member or somebody who's played a major role in your life for years, people in your dreams are almost never who they appear to be, they're just you. But just because I find that I daydream the same way, it was presumptuous to assume that somebody else does. Sorry. I forget that some people are more normal than I am!
  9. Bebelina kospla.com Valued Senior Member

    Well, maybe you're onto something there. Since the conversations occur in the mind then that makes them parts of myself.
    Thank you for presenting that new approach, I will now try to analyze daydreams as nightdreams, just for the fun of it.

  10. jak719 Registered Member

    I agree with both of you. I was going to make the point to nevelle that it was just typical daydreaming. But that was already made. I was then going to make the point that You dont really think you are arguing with your self like you said you are arguing with another person. But maybe you take characteristics from you and then just put them in that other person because you dont want to put yourself down. But that point was pretty much made by fraggle in his day/night dream analyzing. In your dreams you play the roles of everyone in them. You have to. Its your dream, so there is nobody else to play the roles. So you are arguing with yourself, but you are just portrayed as a different character. Its all really quite unusual. And another thing I have discovered is that when you are having one of those little conversations with yourself, you cant just stop the conversation. For a long time you be doing it subconsciously, but then you'll realize it and wont be able to take your mind off of it until your point is made in you imagined conversation.
  11. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    I have ALWAYS done that.
    Since I was a child.
    And I do it quite often.
    Sometime the "other person" is NOT a real person.
    Just a fictionsl character I made up.

    Sometimes it is a conversation that I plan on having with someone I know (sort of like preparation).

    Sometimes it is a conversation I never plan on having.

    Sometimes it is a long outrageous conversatiopn with someone that doesn't exist about a situation that soesn't exist.

    Sometimes it is a little fantasy-play in my head.
    Like, when I was a kid I would imagine being interviewed on TV because of my latest book (or whatever) and I would go through all the questions and answers back and forth.

    I used to wonder how many other people do this.

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    Have I said too much?
  12. Bebelina kospla.com Valued Senior Member

    Finally, people are getting their imaginary conversations out of the closet. It's about time.
    Yes, I also have the tv interview ones, those are the best.

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  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Listen to yourself

    For you younger people, it might be a good resource to pay attention to:

    The topics that come up in these imaginary conversations. That might be a clue into the areas of life that you're really interested in. Some guidance into choosing a field of study, the right university, a career, etc.

    The attitude that either of the participants takes. That might be a clue into how you really feel about something and a guide to either plan your life to be in synch with your feelings, or to adjust your attitude if it's something ordinary that you can't avoid like homework or laundry. Be careful, depending on which person is talking you have to figure out if it's a sign that you agree or disagree with the attitude.

    The frequency and progress of any particular discussion. If you find yourself replaying the same one over and over again and neither person makes any progress, that could be a sign that you are really confused about something. Check for a reason. You may not have enough information to make an informed decision. You may have people you respect in real life on both sides of the issue pulling you both ways. You may have a conflict between what you know you should do and what you want to do. That's normal, you're young. Facing a decision like that is a normal part of growing up. If it pops up a lot, maybe you should put more conscious effort into thinking about it because it might be time to make a decision.

    The person you're talking with in the daydream. If they pop up a lot, then it would seem that this is someone you think about a lot. Why? Respect, trust, like, always helpful, wish you could spend more time with them? Disrespect, distrust, dislike, always in your face, wish they would move to Uzbekistan?
  14. jak719 Registered Member

    Fraggle makes good points. I agree with him completely. Especially with the career choice thing and your interests. For example its just like a kid make believing he is up to bat in the world serie with bases loaded full count and two outs. Or another example would be a kid pretending he is in combat and is a big War Hero. Even when a little kid is playing with toys they are still daydreaming. They just use the toys they are playing with to interpret those dreams. Everyone has dreams and everyone thinks about those dreams. I was one of those kids that would play the great war hero. And When I graduate, I plan on joining the marines.
  15. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    Re: Listen to yourself

    I often utilize these conversations to resolve internal conflicts.
    That is what I use them for more often than not.
    (second runner-up is just pure fantasy and day dreaming.
    As for my age...
    I am 31 and they STILL happen OFTEN.
    Sometimes without conscious determination.
    I just find myself in the middle of one.
    It isn't something I want to change (for the most part) they aren't disruptive (for the most part).
    If I am dealing with a particularly potent "inner demon", such as (as you pointed towards) attempting to reconcile hypocracy in my values and actions, they can become somewhat consuming and even tortured, but it is a means or introspection and a step towards growth, so it is not a negative thing.
  16. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    Sometimes they are (or seem) completely benign.

    Just a little while ago I had a conversation with YOU about this subject.

    They are ALWAYS going on.

    It is the main way I think about things.

    I guess sort of a way to attempt to approach all subjects from "different" points of view simultaneously.
  17. bold standard Registered Senior Member

    This is the most dreadfull explanation I've ever heard for why we laugh:
    In prehistoric tribes, when a member of the group became problematic, the rest of the tribe would gather around and the natural response to the dissenter's unacceptable behavior would be to laugh- specifically, the teeth would be shown, and the abdominal muscles would spasm as the group attacked/bit/murdered the tribesman. Eventually as man gained more independance more rationality and sympathy, it evolved into the benevolent release of tention and anxiety we know it as today.

    I don't remember the source for this idea, but he must have been horribly teased as a child!!
  18. fredx Banned Banned

    I'll give you my 2 cents..my 3 cents is free

    I think that is from eminem, who is quite funny, but I am not sure if I got that right.

    A few things: first I didn't read everything here so I am as guilty of the people I hate for not reading my bullshit, which of course I don't see as bullshit right when I wrote it but class A thought, which is also funny.

    Second, good old Goethe sounds like quite a tight ass for that quote, oh I would quote it in but I don't know how to do that, it was in orthogonal's post.

    Thirdly, Beb I am not sure if having imaginary conversations is healthy, you should have your doctor check into that (Just playing).

    Fourth, to echo beb's quote about not taking life so seriously, I think humor is realizing that life is so F'ed up.

    Fifthly, even thinking is biological which was a cool thought I had or a cool way of putting it at least to think about it.

    Sixth, humor is good because we all have it in common.
  19. mister62 Good Gravy Registered Senior Member

    I believe that humans have no sense of humor.
    We were taught to identify humor and then to respond to it, the most common way in the form of laughter.

    I'm not sure if this belief originated or if it evolved by a long and complex series of events.

    Just a thought:

    A laugh is like a sigh, but with fluxuations in air. Humans fear change and different things, could it be that this sigh was a form of frustration because one experienced something different and that behavior evolved from there?
  20. bold standard Registered Senior Member

    : (
  21. della-dee Registered Member

    Maybe this could be a philosophical question if we look to authors like Martha Nussbaum who believes that emotions are constructed by society. She would take this question seriously, philosphically speaking.
    She would say that our social conditions and experiences teach us what we will find to be funny.
    Of course Nussbaum isn't the first to pose this theory. But im reading her Sex and Social Justice right now, so this question sparked my interest
  22. machaon Registered Senior Member

    I read an article a long time ago about this and I will try to impart the gist of it here. Imagine you were an alien observing humans for the first time. You would observe laughter as a social cue of some sort. But what? In pre-historic times at sometime in our evolution as social creatures we would use it to signal something to others in our group. Lets say, for instance that in the middle of the night(a dangerous time for early man) that something unknown was heard near the perimeter of the encampment. Some or one of the members would investigate the noise to see if it posed a threat or was benign. If upon investigation the noise proved to be no threat(such as a squirrel) then the investigating member(s) would laugh to signify to the rest of the group that they could relax and there was never any danger. Then the stress hormones would drop to normal levels and life could continue as normal. This is a poor summary of the article, and I am sure you can pull it up on the internet somewhere.
  23. bold standard Registered Senior Member

    I do like the physiological explanations for laughter. Obviously laughter serves a physiological purpose, it releaves stress and tension/anxiety etc. Sometimes it results from an overwhelming sense of joy, sometimes it's a defense mechanism against fear or pain, sometimes it occurs as the result of suddenly attempting to integrate incompatible or absurd ideas. There seems to be a common element of surprize, and a person's emotional state and philosophical sense of life strongly effects when laughter will occur. There is an interesting dichotomy between "genuine" laughter and "social" laughter.
    I did a paper for school not too long ago on "What is the difference between fear, humor, and surprize?" and I realized that scientists are only just cracking the surface of this issue. You can make a career out of studying it!

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