Although the Chicago Critics have often been referred to as Aristotelian, I argue that their motivation for using Aristotle and the Poetics as guides to literary criticism is mainly methodological. Furthermore their principle of critical and philosophical pluralism makes it necessary to treat criticism as part of a larger system of thought, and Elder Olson is no a stranger to the idea of treating literature scientifically. I claim that The Theory of Comedy is an example of the discrepancy between Olson s theoretical foundation and his practice as a critic he is unable to merge his own interpretation of Aristotelian theory (which in his opinion is scientific) with his interpretations of comedies. Olson s work as a critic bears strong resemblance to that of the New Critics, with the exception that he treats literature as mimesis. Mimesis in practical criticism can be equated with the acknowledgement (and justification) of a world outside the text.
In an attempt to show the validity of the Chicagoans methodological foundation I draw the outline of a theory of humour based on cognitive science and traditional cognitive psychology. It is my belief that a theory of this kind, if verified, can bring new understanding to the study of literature.