Humor as a Driver of Social Evolution

Humor as a Driver of Social Evolution

“Je suis Charlie” represents the need of people to accept humor as an art that fosters evolution. The unicist ontological approach to humor gives access to its concept and allows understanding its importance.

The reach of one’s globalization is defined by the limit of the pronoun “WE”…

The reach of one’s globalization is defined by the limit of the pronoun “WE”…

Humor is one of the mechanisms used by human beings to solve their adaptation to reality.

On the one hand, humor seeks to solve the conflict between the ideals an individual has and the reality s/he needs to deal with, and on the other hand, it provides a mechanism to allow individuals to integrate in groups.

“People are separated by their strengths and integrated by their weaknesses.”

Humor is a mechanism that allows projecting one’s weaknesses outside and integrating all kinds of people including those who belong to different social or cultural groups.

Humor is a way to solve individual or social problems.

Laughing at oneself is a way to solve one’s problems or to manage them. It fosters functional behavior.

The Functional Concept of Humor

Humor is a human behavior that poses or tries to solve authority conflicts using an aesthetic demystification of reality.

About Authority Conflicts

Humor solves the authority conflict demystifying reality. This demystification seeks to establish a superior reality in which the individual assumes the role of a judge of the environment.

This demystification generates a high level of influential power and thus humor achieves the goal of empowering the people who use it. This demystification requires building smart fallacies to make people feel superior.

The authority conflict requires also annulling the ideal proposed by the authority, which is frequently done by the use of sophisms. This annulment of an ideal, implicit in the authority conflict, does not need to be harmonic.

Finally, the authority conflict implies developing a power game against the establishment, which basically covers all aspects that deal with human relationships. In this context, humor produces paradoxical results when dealing with religious faith.

About the Aesthetics

Humor can only exist when it is perceived as “aesthetic”, which means that people want to appropriate it in order to use it. A joke really works when the individual who learned about it uses it in her/his environment.

Humor also needs to be harmonic with the environment where it works. This is the case of each of the different types of humor, such as caricatures, jokes, the use of irony, etc., which require the adequate harmony with the environment in order to be accepted.

This harmony is defined by the culture, the moment, the group or the subjects involved. Rejection is the consequence of a humor that is not harmonic with its context.

About Demystification

Demystification is a power game. It seeks the destruction of those elements that bother an individual and thus fosters self-esteem. This power game opens two possibilities.

On the one hand, humor demystification allows solving the problem the individual has when dealing with a specific reality and, on the other hand, it allows individuals to avoid the need of assuming responsibilities in the environment.

Demystification needs to annul the influence an ideal exerts in an environment. When an ideal requires investing a high level of energy and is dysfunctional to the needs of a group, humor allows mitigating the stress produced.


Humor, like art in general, is a pathway to equilibrate the conflicts between individuals and a society, which fosters a more functional adaptive behavior. It also works as an internal equilibrator for an individual that has significant consequences on her/his personal health.

On the one hand, humor is also used to destroy dysfunctional taboos, but produces paradoxical results when these taboos sustain the survival of a group or community. But on the other hand, humor fosters personal evolution when it is used to eliminate growth taboos.

This is an excerpt of the book on the Unicist Ontology of Humor published in 2004.

Peter Belohlavek

NOTE: The Unicist Research Institute was the pioneer in using the unicist logical approach in complexity science research and became a private global decentralized leading research organization in the field of human adaptive systems. It has an academic arm and a business arm.