It has been one of my career goals to publish a scholarly piece with a Cambridge journal. Now that dream has been realized, as the journal Think has recently published my article “Why Flatulence is Funny.”
Actually, in this article I do explore a serious philosophical issue, though it regards the nature of humor (and that most silly of bodily functions). Traditionally, philosophy of humor has fallen into the category of aesthetics. This makes sense, since comedy is a form of artistry.
So why is flatulence funny, in fact funnier than most things in life and funny in every culture? In the article I get to the bottom of this (so to speak), showing how farts satisfy the conditions for humor on each of the three major theories of humor: superiority theory (e.g., Hobbes), incongruity theory (e.g., Kant and Schopenhauer), and relief theory (e.g., Spencer and Freud).
So the next time you guffaw at someone passing gas, you need not feel foolish or childish. You can feel secure in the knowledge that your laughter is warranted by the fact that farts really are funny, according to any serious philosophical account of humor.