In book Four, Chapter Eight of the Ethics, Aristotle applies his philosophical ideals to the concept of humor and good company. He establishes categories and kinds of humor or wit, and sets limits for the behavior that a gentleman and a wise man will accept. At one point, however, he makes the admission that it’s hard to define when ridicule is appropriate. Because people react to ridicule in different ways, according to their temperament.
This paper will examine the second paragraph of Book Four, Chapter Eight, to determine what it is about “ridicule” that causes Aristotle to break away from his usual method of analysis to consider other ways of looking at the problem. Specifically, the question of why Aristotle says that propriety in ridicule “eludes definition” will be considered. The problem is that Aristotle defines ridicule in a later part of the same paragraph, in a way that seems not to admit any acceptable forms. When looking at good and bad company, Aristotle considers it entirely in terms of “entertaining conversation,” such as humor, wit, or ridicule. He argues that “adaptability” in the way we talk to people is desirable, since there is a time and a place for everything.
The paragraph begins with indirect definitions of two extremes of humor, the buffoon and the humorless person. A buffoon would rather be a fool and hurt people’s feelings than “fail to raise a laugh.” A man who never cracks a joke is also falling short of the appropriate behavior, which is the gentleman’s ability to give and take gentle humor in a conversation. A “wit” is someone “whose pleasantries do not go too far,” and is always ready with a witty remark or a pleasant joke: … as to the middle state in dealing with the humorous, particularly characteristic of that is social tact or address, which may be defined as the gift of saying just the right things for a gentleman to say and of getting others to say such things to him. This seems to be the meaning of “good or bad company,” where a person gives and takes pleasure in conversation with others, according to the situation and the subject. Aristotle defines ridicule, he says that it is a form of “abuse or slander, and slander in certain circumstances is prohibited by law.” How can there be any propriety in a form of abuse or slander? Aristotle seems to avoid the contradiction, going on to say that the proper gentleman will regulate his own behavior.
Humor is an important part of everyday interaction. It serves mainly as a social lubricant that creates a lighter atmosphere between a speaker and an audience. Provided that it is not provoke offensive behavior, humor can be used as a first step towards building individual relationships. A more relaxed ambiance between people, in turn, is conducive to friendliness. In the sociological context, ...
He will neither be a buffoon nor a boor, and will always say things of good taste and intelligence. Unfortunately, this does not sound like very good humor or wit, and there still is no explanation of how ridicule can be acceptable. If we verbally abuse somebody, they are right to be angry and feel insulted by our words, but if we tease or gently make fun of them, this would not be any kind of ridicule at all. The explanation for the lack of an acceptable form of ridicule consists in the poor definition of the term. If ridicule is abuse, then it is wrong. Aristotle says there is a strong case for outlawing some kinds of ridicule.
But if ridicule is good fun and gentle humor, then it cannot be a form of abuse. Aristotle seems to define ridicule as an unacceptable extreme of humor, in which one person makes fun of another in a cruel way. At the same time, some kind of gentle ridicule is obviously accepted in entertaining conversation. Ridicule “eludes definition,” as Aristotle puts it, because it includes forms of humor that are not really cruel or abusive. At the same time, every conversation has a different meaning for the person involved; Someone with a good sense of humor can “take a joke,” and will laugh at a remark that ridicules something personal, such as their appearance or intelligence.
Education in the Classroom, or in the Real World Oscar Wilde and Lord Brougham have different ideas about the education system. Wilde states Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. This means that education does not teach a person every thing they need to know, a person learns from doing things outside of ...
Another person might react very differently, and be extremely insulted. The difference seems to be that a good-humored person can accept jokes and ridicule, while a bad-humored person only wants to make fun of others. In this case, ridicule should be defined as the extreme of humor, involving abuse. The extreme of bad humor is the boor, “contributing nothing to the conversation and taking offense at anything that is said.” There is a contradiction between “saying amusing things” that do not hurt the feeling of the other person, and using ridicule as a form of abuse. The first type of humor is gentle, and only tries to share a laugh. This is the meaning of good company, giving and taking gentle jokes and witty remarks.
But if ridicule is a form of abuse, then it represents an excess, like being bad-tempered is the excess of anger. It might be easier to define abuse as the excess of ridicule, which then represents a range of humor and wit, from the harmless joke to sarcasm. This does not fit the usual understanding of ridicule, however. In conclusion, the argument about the meaning of ridicule seems a little unclear, as if Aristotle is still thinking out his argument. But he concludes that in a circle of wise people, gentle good humor is always welcome. Ridicule, on the other hand, needs to be regulated in order to be acceptable..