Tales of the unexpected. Incongruity-resolution in humor comprehension, scientific discovery and thought experimentation

Tim De Mey

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/LLP.2005.006


Some scholars suspect that thought experiments have something in common with jokes. Moreover, Thomas Kuhn has suggested that what happens to someone who thinks through a thought experiment “is very similar to what happens to a man, like Lavoisier, who must assimilate the result of a new unexpected experimental discovery” (1964: 321). In this paper, I pinpoint the presumed commonalities. I identify, more specifically, what cognitive linguists call “incongruity-resolution” as the problem-solving process not only involved in humor comprehension, but in scientific discovery and thought experimentation as well.

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Financed by MNiSW on the basis of agreement no. 706/P-DUN/2018 (dated 10/05/18). Project 1: “Preparation of articles in English for eight editions of the journal Logic and Logical Philosophy over the period 2018–19; Vol. 27, No. 1–4 (2018), Vol. 28, No. 1–4 (2019)”; amount from the DUN grant: 64800 zł. Project 4: “Digitalisation of eight editions of the journal Logic and Logical Philosophy over the period 2018-19; Vol. 27, No. 1–4 (2018), Vol. 28, No. 1–4 (2019)”; amount from the DUN grant: 18600 zł.

ISSN: 1425-3305 (print version)
ISSN: 2300-9802 (electronic version)

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