Donald, I agree, we need more science in our humor research and more precise definitions of the terms we use. I have never understood what is meant by "resolving an incongruity", if resolving means incorporating the two incongruous parts into the same concept or thought. This is my understanding of the term incongruity:
There is something in our brain which prevents us from holding two contrasting or contradictory ideas at the same time. I would call two such ideas incongruous. These ideas can never be combined into one coherent concept. Two ''incongruous'' ideas which can be resolved, made congruous, by a change in the perspective of the viewer were congruous to begin with.
To illustrate we will use a simple joke:
How was the party last night?
It was great while I lasted.
''It was great while it lasted'' is a more familiar phrase. The''I'' in the fellow's reply is a little disturbing or puzzling. But,a party, free drinks, a thirsty guest, it makes sense. He wouldn't last long. Now, we may have solved a puzzle, or adjusted a disturbance, but have we combined these two contrasting ideas into one coherent thought? Look again. These two ideas are still at odds with each other. Short of changing the ideas into something else, they will remain so.
The mind has another trick. It combines items with similar characteristics into a unit. The, ''great while it lasted'', differs only in that one letter from the, ''great while I lasted''. These phrases, even though they represent two very different ideas, are united.
There is no way to deal with two contradictory ideas simultaneously, nor can they be separated.
So, our brain isn't perfect, but it is this imperfection that gives us humor. Now, there is another fuzzy term. Does anyone have a good solid definition of humor.