Humor has long been the subject of serious research among psychologists, linguists, sociologists, philosophers, and neuroscientists. There’s an entire journal devoted to the topic and, though it may be hard to believe when you’re engrossed in the latest Hangover movie, humor is so much more than just a laughing matter.
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein reportedly told his friend, philosopher Norman Malcolm, that “a serious and good philosophical work could be written that would consist entirely of jokes (without being facetious.)” He believed the wordplay we laugh at helps reveal our unquestioned assumptions about the world.
“Wittgenstein thought that language was our window into underlying conceptions that we have, that often aren’t explicit,” David Boersema, philosophy professor at Pacific University, tells Quartz. “By attending to the language, we can see where we make these conceptual shifts.” Read more