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More about laughter ...

Laughter is the physiological reaction to occasions of humor or the 'comic' stimulus; it is an outward expression of amusement. Aristotle noted that "only the human animal laughs". No satisfactory theory of laughter that explains why we laugh has yet gained wide acceptance. A number of competing theories have been written. For Aristotle, we laugh at inferior or ugly individuals, because we feel a joy at being superior to them. Socrates was reported by Plato as saying that the ridiculous was characterized by a display of self-ignorance. Schopenhauer wrote that it results from an incongruity between a concept and the real object it represents. Hegel shared almost exactly the same view, but saw the concept as an "appearance" and believed that laughter then totally negates that appearance. For Freud, laughter is an "economical phenomenon" whose function is to release "psychic energy" that had been wrongly mobilized by incorrect or false expectations.

Physiologically laughter can be subcategorised into various groupings depending upon the extent and pitch of the laughter: giggles, clicks (which can be almost silent), chortles, chuckles, hoots, cackles, snickers and guffaws are all types of laughter. Smiling may be considered a mild silent form of laughter. Some studies indicate that laughter differs depending upon the gender of the laughing person: women tend to laugh in a more "sing-song" way, while men more often grunt or snort. Babies start to laugh at about 4 months of age. Philosopher John Morreall theorises that human laughter may have its biological origins as a kind of shared expression of relief at the passing of danger. The General Theory of Verbal Humor (GTVH) proposed by Victor Raskin and S. Attardo identifies a semantic model capable of expressing incongruities between semantic scripts in verbal humor; this has been seen as an important recent development in the theory of laughter. Recently Peter Marteinson theorised that laughter is our response to the perception that social being is not real in the same sense that factual states of affairs are true, and that we subconsciously blur the distinctions between cultural and natural truth types, so that we do not normally notice their differing criteria for truth and falsehood. This is an ontic-epistemic theory of the comic (OETC).

On the other hand, laughing at somebody is considered to be ridiculing the individual. Some consider this form of laughter to be the mind's way of "purging" negative, unwanted things and thoughts not of the self. For example, when a young boy sees another boy fall down, he may laugh because he knows that he does not want to fall down himself, therefore by "laughing" he is pushing the negative thought of falling down out of his mind.

Source: Wikipedia

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