By the aid of these senses, then, some of the things that happen to us appear delightful, fitting, glorious, and honorable to us, while others seem vile and contemptible, and we may discern yet another reflexive sense: a sense of things that are ridiculous or apt to cause laughter, that is, when a thing arouses contrary sensations at one and the same time. In the case of men’s intentions and actions, bad behavior that does not cause grievous sorrow or death gives rise to laughter, because there is some dignity in the very name of man because we have a certain opinion of his prudence and intelligence, whereas bad behavior that leads to serious pain or death rather excites pity. In the case of other things, we are moved to laughter by those which exhibit some splendid spectacle at the same time as a contradictory image of something cheap, lowly, and contemptible. This sense is very beneficial, whether in increasing the pleasure of conversation or in correcting men’s morals.
Francis Hutcheson, Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind (1730), Part II, Chapter 1.