The Philosophy of Humour

Author: Paul McDonald


PDF eBook. 1 mb. 135 pages; 42,000 words. Alsi in ePub and Mobi.

Recommend to your librarian

Comic novelist and critic Paul McDonald explores the philosophy of humour in a book that will appeal to both philosophers and creative writers alike.Three formats: PDF, ePub and Mobi.

There are numerous competing theories of humour and laughter, and the absence of a single theory implies the importance of assessing them all.

One aim of this book is to do exactly that. It concentrates mainly on philosophical approaches to humour— including those of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Descartes, Hobbes, Bergson, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Freud and Bakhtin.

But the discussion explores other fields such as cultural studies, literary theory, religion, psychoanalysis, and psychology; this broad focus makes for a richer account of humour, its relationship with philosophical thought, and its bearing on the human condition.  Humour is a creative activity, and another aim of the book is to address that aspect of humour. Throughout readers are invited to engage in creative writing exercises designed to exploit this crucial facet of humour, and to help them explore relevant issues imaginatively. In this way they will deepen their understanding of those issues, whilst at the same time cultivating their own creative skills. Thus the book will be of value both to people interested in the meaning of humour, and to those wishing to explore its creative possibilities.

About the author

Paul McDonald works at the University of Wolverhampton where he is Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Course Leader for Creative Writing. He is the author of twelve books, including three poetry collections and three comic novels. His criticism includes books on Philip Roth, the fiction of the Industrial Midlands, and Laughing at the Darkness: Postmodernism and American Humour (Humanities-Ebooks, 2011), available on this site. His research focuses largely on comedy, and he takes a perverse pleasure in the fact that Googling ‘the oldest joke in the world’ generates several hundred pages with his name on.

Other Formats

A paperback at £11.75 rrp (but only £9.99 direrct from

A Kindle edition from all branches of Amazon

A Google Books edition

Library PDFs from Ebrary, EBSCO, MyiLibrary

Review Comment

Among the books that introduce the philosophy of humor to newcomers, The Philosophy of Humour, by comic novelist and teacher of creative writing Paul McDonald, stands out for its accessibility as well as for practice elements to keep readers mentally busy. The slim introduction covers all the topics that readers unfamiliar with the philosophy of humor need to know to navigate the field successfully: he addresses the evolutionary beginnings and functions of amusement and humor and canvasses traditional theories ranging from ancient Greek accounts of humor to Superiority Theory, Incongruity Theory and Relief Theory. The biggest advantage of The Philosophy of Humour over its peers is that it does not simply present positions but stimulates readers to think philosophically and creatively about them. -- Steffen Steinert, The Humorous Times, Summer 2014


Customers who bought this book also bought:

Share |
The Philosophy of Humour

Other formats:

See Lulu Paperback9.99

Review Comment

Paul McDonald’s The Philosophy of Humour is a well-researched, clearly written and thought provoking read that reflects upon the radically transformative potential of humour. In surveying the whole gamut of philosophers who have written about laughter – starting from Plato and Aristotle, through Cicero, Hobbes, Bergson, Kant, Schopenhauer and onward to Freud, McDonald lucidly explains the major contenders for an overall theory of humour: Incongruity, Superiority and Relief. He then goes on to trace the rich intersections of humour with ethics, religion and post-modernity. The book uniquely draws on the author’s impressive experience as a university lecturer in Creative Writing to offer a series of exciting and challenging composition exercises. If you write your way through this book as well as read it, you’ll emerge with an enviable body of work and more jokes than you can shake a chicken at. So, whether you are intrigued by Russell Brand’s meditation practice, or agree with Erica Jong that a good laugh is the best way to face an impossible situation, then treat yourself to some serious thinking about what it means to be funny, and what it means to be human.—Dr Scott Thurston (Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing, University of Salford, UK)

Reader reviews

Rating : 10/10 stars10/10 stars10/10 stars10/10 stars10/10 stars10/10 stars10/10 stars10/10 stars10/10 stars10/10 stars

"Excellent guide when studying humour writing"


Terms of Service

For more information about what we do and how we do it, please read our terms & conditions page for a full service breakdown.

Registered Address:
Humanities-Ebooks LLP
Clint Mill,
Cornmarket, Penrith
CA11 7HW

Our Partners

See our printed book selection at


Contact Information

Partnership No. OC324877
Registered in England and Wales


UK Web design & hosting by BFI