Amusement and the philosophy of emotion: A neuroanatomical approach

Dialogue 46 (3):419-434 (2007)
Philosophers who discuss the emotions have usually treated amusement as a non-emotional mental state. Two prominent philosophers making this claim are Henri Bergson and John Morreall, who maintain that amusement is too abstract and intellectual to qualify as an emotion. Here, the merit of this claim is assessed. Through recent work in neuroanatomy there is reason to doubt the legitimacy of dichotomies that separate emotion and the intellect. Findings suggest that the neuroanatomical structure of amusement is similar to other commonly recognized emotion states. On the basis of these it is argued that amusement should be considered an emotion. Les philosophes qui adressent la question des émotions traitent généralement l’état d’amusement comme un êtat mental excluant l’émotion. Parmi les philosophes importants à défendre cette thèse, Henri Bergson et John Morreall soutiennent que l’amusement est trop abstrait et intellectuel pour être tenu pour une émotion. Nous réévaluons cette thèse. De récents travaux en neuroanatomie fournissent des raisons de douter de la légitimité de la dichotomie entre émotion et intellect. Certaines autres découvertes suggèrent que la structure neuroanatomique de l’amusement est très similaire à d’autres états émotifs. Sur la base de ces travaux, nous argumentons que l’amusement doit être considéré comme une émotion
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