Inside Jokes

By Matthew M. Hurley, Daniel C. Dennett, and Reginald B. Adams Jr.

Science advances by asking new questions, and Matthew Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams raise a lot of them… Some of these questions have been asked before, but no previous attempt succeeds in answering so many so well. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Science

Published in March of 2011 by The MIT Press, Inside Jokes is a new book that explores the nature of humor and mirth.

As one might expect, the book raises the questions of what humor is and what things make us laugh. But, more importantly it asks—and attempts to answer—the question of why a trait like humor should exist at all. Not “what is humor?”, but “what is humor for?”

This evolutionary perspective—a perspective of benefits and purposiveness—allows us to place this cognitive and emotional trait into its rightful context of thinking and feeling, and gives us a proper foundation for approaching the myriad other questions about what humor is and how it works psychologically, socially and culturally.