Humour: Sign of Humanity?

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by Chaos, May 5, 2009.

  1. Chaos

    Chaos Epic Gamer V.I.P. Lifetime

    Does laughter equate Humanity?

    I've never heard of an animal that can laugh, truly laugh, with an actual sense of humour. I've heard of monkeys and chimpanzees laughing in zoo's, but wouldn't that just be imitated behaviour? Not an actual sense of humour?

    Could it be argued that laughter is an indicator of Humanity? Could it be one of the few signs of Humanity? Or is humour simply the outcome of a higher intelligence? After all, boredom is also a solely Human trait.

    Last edited: May 6, 2009

  2. ysabel

    ysabel /ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5

    I'm not sure about it being a source of humanity unless you consider the fact that humor is a mating tool. :) I do think that humor seems to be primarily a human trait. It's probably because most of it is based on language and communication. Without being able to understand how other animals communicate, we can't really tell if they are laughing or finding something humorous, haha. Research shows though that other primates show some sense of humor (and laugh). For sure, animals could willingly provide amusement (it's another thing to know if they actually think it's funny, they're funny or perhaps they're just pleased with the reaction from humans...ah, maybe they're laughing at us after all!).

    Laughter and humor are often concepts that go together. I have read in the past though that laughter is rarely about funny things. It's a social function (we tend to laugh more in the presence of other people). Laughter happens with sudden release of tension. It's also linked to incongruity (something is funny when there's a surprise or different result from what we expect). The understanding of incongruity requires intelligence and it's also what makes something humorous. That's why I think humor is related to intelligence because there's a cognitive process involved in recognising what things are humorous. Even humans who don't laugh at jokes, we sometimes say that "they don't get it". Of course, there are times that they do get it but choose to not find it humorous. :)
    Chaos likes this.
  3. Chaos

    Chaos Epic Gamer V.I.P. Lifetime

    Yeah. I was inspired but pretty tired when I posted this. I think I meant 'sign' rather than 'source'. Duly edited, thanks. :lol:

    But wouldn't that imply a higher intelligence? It would mean that they're consciously thinking/finding it a good idea to amuse us. I would imagine that indicates extraordinarily high intelligence for beings which Human's consider 'dumb' - perhaps not precisely to the level of Human intelligence, but a very high level of intelligence nonetheless.

    I mean, there's a big difference between willingly and consciously desiring to make a Human laugh, and doing something which an animal has either been trained to do, or something that benefits the animal, i.e. treats, food, comfort, etc. One implies a natural, impulsive desire to get food or other form of pleasure (which would also require intelligence, but no more than has been evidenced by dogs throughout the world - sit, stay, lie down, roll over, fetch, etc). The other implies an actual conscious intelligence. At least, so I figure, anyway. :hmm:
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  4. raye_raye

    raye_raye my bologna has a 1st name

    Well in pschology they teach that smiling is a human trait; however, crying is not solely a human trait. So it is possible to see how humor is a human trait, and as stated above, humor does require an intelligence level of sort and thus once again possibly a trait of humanity.
  5. ysabel

    ysabel /ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5

    Ah, now it makes more sense.... :rotfl:

    At one point, I'd say maybe it's conditioned response (do this, we laugh, we treat you well) but even that would imply that there's learning involved. And when there's learning....there's intelligence? Or is it the type of phenomenon we call learning without knowing. Meaning, there's no conscious intellectual process involved in it but we simply mold our behavior in response to a consistent stimulus. Both humans and animals do that.
  6. Chaos

    Chaos Epic Gamer V.I.P. Lifetime

    I thought you knew me well enough by now...;) :hah:

    Oh, I'm not denying that there is a certain level of intelligence within living creatures, especially higher developed creatures like cats and dogs, etc, as opposed to slugs and worms - but when I say intelligence, I mean to approximately the Human level of intelligence. Sure, it's likely that it is a learned response to training or consistent behaviour or stimulus in the case of sit = treat, but for an actual sense of humour to exist, wouldn't that require an intelligence level similar to that of Humans? To be able to consciously think (though not necessarily in words :hmm:) "Hey, that's pretty funny!" or "Yeah, I'm making him laugh, I like that" or something, implies that there exists an intelligence equal or somewhat similar to the intelligence level of Humans.

    And this is where I'm wondering whether it's possible for an animal to have a sense of humour. A sense of humour would require actual thought processes whereas behavioural molding in response to certain stimuli is a natural progress, requiring only limited brain power/intelligence.

    So, if a monkey were able to look at something and laugh, truly laugh with an actual sense of humour - would that not indicate a certain level of what most would call 'Humanity'?
  7. snelling101

    snelling101 Registered Member

    I don't personally think that humor is only found in humans, i could see the way that we express laughter, and other feelings are indicative to humans. But that doesn't mean that we are the only species that can or is able to express that feeling/emotion.
  8. Theodore_Bagwell

    Theodore_Bagwell Registered Member

    In order to achieve the trait of humor, or to understand it, you gotta have a lot of intelligence. A LOT. As humans are the only creatures who have achieved such intelligence, humor can pretty much indicate that we are humans. But actually, humans who live in poverty and such, and haven't had the chance of education, do lack some sense of humor... this goes to prove that level of humor and level of intelligence are closely related.
  9. Chaos

    Chaos Epic Gamer V.I.P. Lifetime

    Actually, that's not true. Someone living in poverty, barely surviving is obviously going to be less happy with life than someone who can survive easily. Plus that's just a stereotype. There's no way you can say "Every hobo in the world has no sense of humour" - in fact it's almost guaranteed that that is wrong. So, in reality, this only shows that intelligence and knowledge are two very different things.
  10. EllyDicious

    EllyDicious made of AMBIGUITY V.I.P. Lifetime

    I'm not sure if humour is a sign of humanity, only. Just as we can't understand most of animal's language, we may not understand even when they laugh or when they're humorous. We know when they're joyful but we haven't noticed when they're humourours and just because we're not able to understand that, it doesn't mean they don't have this ability.
    Dogs playing with each other is a sign of humour.
    When they play, we get humorous and so do they.

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