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Hobbes on Laughter

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It has been common to read Hobbes as having an egoistic psychology, and those who have discussed his remarks about laughter (notably Heyd, Watkins and Hutcheson) have taken them to support that interpretation, dealing only rather briefly with what Hobbes actually says about laughter. I argue that Hobbes did not have an egoistic psychology, and that a more detailed consideration of his remarks about laughter, putting them in the context of other things he says, shows that they are consistent with his not having an egoistic psychology. His concern with laughter is as the expression of a passion, and specifically with a passion aroused by somebody's attempt to dishonour one, recognition of which fact changes the inferences we can reasonably draw from his remarks about laughter, given his more general claims about human nature.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Western Australia

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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