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Thinking about the EmotionsA Philosophical History$
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Alix Cohen and Robert Stern

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766858

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198766858.001.0001

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The Passions and Actions of Laughter in Shaftesbury and Hutcheson

The Passions and Actions of Laughter in Shaftesbury and Hutcheson

(p.130) 6 The Passions and Actions of Laughter in Shaftesbury and Hutcheson
Thinking about the Emotions

Laurent Jaffro

Oxford University Press

The third Earl of Shaftesbury and Francis Hutcheson considered laughter as a passion in its own right. The hilarious response is not reducible, as Hobbes believed, to the facial expression of the sudden awareness of our own superiority. Ridicule is however an important kind of laughter; it is also an action, part of a strategy against the seriousness of fanaticism. Shaftesbury gives much importance to the politics of laughter and to the caustic power of ridicule, but also to the capacity to laugh at one’s laughter, which is crucial to what he calls good humour. Hutcheson and Shaftesbury interestingly disagree on the question of how to regulate laughter and limit its abuse.

Keywords:   humour, ridicule, mirth, Francis Hutcheson, third Earl of Shaftesbury, passion, British moralists

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