[Fis] Fis Digest, Vol 86, Issue 9

Karl Javorszky karl.javorszky at gmail.com
Mon Feb 7 13:55:32 CET 2022

Dear All,

*Lovely* contribution from Youri re humour and its place in epistemology.

*All these discussions around humour could lead to the following question:
Does humour in a given system contain information about itself and about
the system to which it is addressed? (Youri)*

*Freud: *Humour has been dealt with by Freud in 1905 and in 1928. (Like if
Euclid or Euler have dealt with a subject, there is hardly anything new
coming after their treatise.)

His main points, according to my humble reading, that could be relevant for

1) Humour is an *objectively existing* something (not only made up by

The basis for humour is that there is a constellation of *physiological*
nature which contrasts with a constellation of* socio-cultural* nature.
Please compare the objective existence of alcohol in the blood and the
subjective feeling of being in an externally relaxed state.

2) Humour is a method of reducing *discrepancy *between two somethings.
Freud remarks that some kinds of contrasts, deviations between the ideal
state of the world according to Id and the ideal state of the world
according to the Superego belong in the category of (potential) Humour (in
dependence of the specific methodology of tension reduction).

*Reformulation: *We have in the course of 100 years developed a vocabulary
and related concepts on the same idea, and could reformulate the essence of
that specific kind of tension reduction as follows:

            1) A system is undergoing external periodic changes. Evolution
has enabled us to react to, bring forth, remember and anticipate the
necessary adjustments. This would be the necessities imposed by physiology,
instincts, urges. You can call this level of description (eg alcohol
content) of the facts produced by the Id, or the assembly of sentences that
describe a state of the world, as factual constellations of Sachverhalte
(elementary logical facts).

            2) There exists a meta-level of descriptions of the
descriptions which relate to the first-level facts. The meta-level deals
with the *usuality, expectability, predictability *of sentences describing
the first-level facts. This would be that what we have learnt, our culture
and education of the *soul *(of the components of the meta-system). This is
what you would call Superego.

            3) Levels 1 and 2 can be – and usually are – in discongruence.
Managing the discongruence is done by the Ego translates today into: there
is a system of optimising adjudication strategies between discongruences.

            4) Some techniques of reduction of discongruence are recognised
to be humour.

*Problem: *The specifics of the tension reduction show that humour is
relying on something more complicated than *entropy, *which is also a
method of reduction of tensions. Humour has the property of being
unexpected and unusual, in a pleasing way *otherwise*. Entropy is never
otherwise, nor are those methods which are sober, factual, neutral. We need
to conceptualise a web of relations among which there are the usual, like
entropy etc., and then the elegant, witty, sparkling ones, which *actualise
a potential that has been there but would normally not be utilised.*

*Dangers associated with a-priori relations: *

Since Giordano Bruno, everybody doing serious science studiously avoids the
subject of *a-priori existing logical relations* that regulate Nature. We
prefer to think Nature to be an unregulated mystery rather than to be a
creation of some superhuman entity. Nothing wrong with that, but the
enlightened renaissance of rational thinking has gotten too much carried
away by its radical anti-religionism. It is good that Newton has put an end
to witches, sorcery and superstition by declaring that the apple and the
Earth attract each other: no teleportation and things do not jump up and
follow you by their own volition. Not God is pulling the apple down, but
Gravitation, which is one of Laws of Nature (not of God). Theogenetic
explanations have been replaced by anthropomorphic constructs, where things
pull each other and exert forces. That the apple does not jump down by its
own destiny (collection of properties) does not explain how supernovae do
explode by their own destiny (collection of properties).

The problem is that once we start allowing *some *actually existing
a-priori logical relations, we do not know where to stop (vale Occam’s
razor). Once we allow the chemical elements *Na, Cl *to merge into
*NaCl *because
they have an *affinity *for each other, we can hardly reject the idea that
the sunflower *wants *to turn towards the Sun and that spiders and birds *plan
*their constructions. If anything is *preordained *then it is only natural
that some Princes and Kings rule *dei gr. imp. def. fid. etc.*

*But we need them:*

Any social psychologist will tell you that *group structures *are a fact of
Nature and they appear with the unavoidability of gravitation: if the
collection is big enough, one notices its working. Today, we call them
gr. imp. def. fid. etc.*

Similarly, reflexes, instincts, archetypes are strong evidence that there
are *patterns *out there in the objective reality, towards/onto which our
neurology has optimised its procedures. We would not have a perception of
eg *symmetry *if there was no such thing as symmetry out there in the
objective reality. We have to accept the idea that there is a web of
interdependence relations among the things that make up Nature and that
this web of relations exists a-priori, just because the things that make up
Nature are such as they are.

*But then again:*

How far does the implied self-organising capacity (and wish?) of Nature go?
Is it in the Nature of humans to be a beast? Is it preordained that
organised matter will reach a degree of organisation which is a
self-correcting feedback loop? Where do you draw a line between
speculation, beliefs and rational reasoning? (Will the aluminium headwear
really help?)

*Compromise proposal:*

Why don’t we draw a line between superstition and rational talk by
dissecting the collection of statements relating to a-priori existing
relations such, that on one side are such statements that root in *a+b=c *and
on the other side all those which do not root in *a+b=c?* If we discover
that one can juggler *(a,b) *in such a fashion that a web of a-priori
relations appears, then we have a collection of logical facts which creates
a multidimensional interdependence matrix, which makes the appearance
of a *tohubawohu
*but is deeply and strictly rational.

*New explanation terminology for humour*

Among the mental pictures about members of a physiological constellation in
the brain, there exist relations. Among the relations, there are some which
refer to a slightly different, but sufficiently similar pattern of
relations relative to the most usual and expected patterns of relations.

*Archimedes or Socrates*

Imagine the guy mentioned first to stalk anyone he thinks influential and
involve his victim in interminable monologues about how the sum of the
squares of two shorter sides of an orthogonal triangle agrees to the square
of the diagonal and how this numeric trick can be applied to many, many
practical problems. He has a hard time finding someone interested in this
factually correct apparent nonsense. People who listen to him grow wheat,
deal with animals or collect taxes. They find what he says nice, clever but
useless. People who build roads, houses or plan towns deal with practical
problems and will not spend time with basic research and its results. After
a while, Archimedes gains recognition and lives much honoured until some
invading army violently ends his life.

Socrates was also a great stalker. He kept involving unsuspecting
scientists and other honourees by asking them: Are you sure you know what
you are talking about? Can you say that what you said just now in a fashion
that is clear? Don’t you think that your inability to solve your questions
is caused by you not focusing on what you try to say? Can it be that you
are too much one-dimensional? Would it help if you had an alternate
description to that what you describe? Do you think there would be some
discongruence between how you describe what you see relative to that how
someone different describes the same state of the world? Would it not be
helpful to investigate the difference between your description and the
description of the other person? Do you think there would be some
systematic patterns to the deviations between two descriptions, if one
description would be reflecting on {similarities, the employers view, the
oppressed opinion, etc.} as contrasted to reflected on {diversities, the
employees view, the oppressors’ opinion, etc.}? After a while, Socrates has
managed to irritate enough of the polis, so he was politely invited to
commit suicide.

*Yes,* humour is a rather potent tool to decrease tensions. For a tension
to exist, there need to be two interacting systems, the elements of both of
which are interrelated among each other. The pattern of the relations on
the lower-lever system is reflected as a structure (grammar) in the
relations of the meta-level. If a relation is referred to by the
utilisation of a relation pattern among the members of the meta-level which
agrees to a relation pattern among the members of the primary level,
tension is reduced. If the relation referred to exists only on the factual
level but is not pictured on the meta-level, the resulting novelty
necessitates a rearrangement. The rearrangement can feed back into a
release of a physiological gratification, and this makes us happy.

There is truth in the saying that explaining humour is a rhetorical
kamikaze for the wiseass. I suffer this destiny heroically, because the
Learned Friends have many times also enhanced my day.

With a smile:

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