Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Humor: The Siren Affect
Insofar as humor is akin to deception, we have reason to be wary of its seductive Siren affect. The danger of an induced seductive, pacific state which threatens our powers of agency could be seen as a warning rather than a release, the warning be that of the loss of self-governance.
History abounds with stories of induced lethargy or the atrophy of skills, impaired reason, and clouded judgment due to being enslaved by our own pleasures. The objection against impaired reason (Ion) is obvious with respect to sound judgement, but just the same, sound judgment disappears in the presence of lament.
The altered state of happiness as experienced in laughter, just as the inebriant affects of alcohol or drugs, could be considered at odds with the philosophical ideal of free thinking and unimpaired powers to act as a free agent.
Theoretically, the use of humor, just as the use of alcohol or drugs, could be seen an escapist activity. By laughing at life we escape or evade the rigor and demands of reason, responsible agency, proper freedom, and self-determination...
Unless, of course, we are determined to laugh and experience life from a state of happiness. Here, humor is aligned with our goals, making it a necessary action of emotional re-balancing rather than an evasion tactic.
Sticking to the idea that humor seduces us, causing us to laugh at the punchline of jokes, we can think of humor from a Stoic perspective, lamenting the ways in which our nature is impaired when we act in ignorance or under any conditions that cloud our judgment.