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moth

Humor and consciousness

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Posted (edited)

You probably don't have to have a sense of humor to be conscious, but it helps.

 In the tv series Trailer Park Boys Julian, the mastermind, is in jail and Ricky and Bubbles have the people in the park growing vegetables.
 Bubbles uses the veggies to make spaghetti sauce that he sells at the flea market.
 A guy who owns a chain of restaurants offers Bubbles a wad of cash for the recipe to his sauce. 
 Ricky says SELL but Bubbles says no, what would Julian do?
 Ricky answers "probably something stupid like supply the restaurant chain with the sauce".
 Bubbles says awesome idea and makes the deal and even more cash.
But Ricky is bummed. What's wrong, Bubbles asks? Ricky doesn't know if it was his great idea or Julians.
Don't you see sez Bubbles "it was Julians idea, but you came up with it.

Edited by moth
i think i misquoted.

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More seriously (!?) though, humour probably does tell us something about consciousness: the way that laughter is contagious (even hearing a recording of laughter with no context can make us laugh) probably says something about the way we understand that other people are conscious in the same way that we are ("theory of mind"). There has been a lot of research on this, such as how people react to real versus faked laughter, laughter being culture-specific, etc.

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The scene from trailer park boys reminded me of Douglas Hofstadter's strange loops.
People we see and think about have a representation in our minds, and those  representations can seem so real to us, that we imagine what they might say or do in a hypothetical situation. 
As if the representation  lives a life of its own in our heads. 


I think communication may be a basic part of consciousness and humor is like a universal language. 
 People may not agree a particular thing is funny, but almost everybody thinks something is funny. 

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