Shaftesbury's Philosophy of Religion and Ethics: A Study in Enthusiasm

By Stanley Grean | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
HUMOR and LIBERTY

The concept of humor plays an important part throughout Shaftesbury's discussion of religion. Humor is not only a method of attack upon all forms of narrow-mindedness, intolerance, and bigotry, but in a more fundamental sense it characterizes the state of mind in which truth is best apprehended. Humor is a means of liberation from patterns of action or thought that are life-destroying rather than life-giving. In Shaftesbury's philosophy it denotes a fundamental capacity of the soul which prepares man for the apprehension of the true, the beautiful, and the good. Humor relaxes the mind, allowing it to view problems freely and objectively from various perspectives, and thus, it is the enemy of all pretense and falsity. If we fear humor, Shaftesbury writes,

we may be charged perhaps with wilful ignorance and blind idolatry for having taken opinions upon trust, and consecrated in ourselves certain idol-notions, which we will never suffer to be unveiled or seen in open light. They may perhaps be monsters, and not divinities, or sacred truths, which are kept thus choicely in some dark corner of our minds. The spectres may impose on us whilst we refuse to turn them every way and view their shapes and

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Shaftesbury's Philosophy of Religion and Ethics: A Study in Enthusiasm
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents *
  • Part One - Part One 1
  • Chapter One - Philosophy: True and False 3
  • Chapter Two - Enthusiasm 19
  • Chapter Three - Knowledge and Intuition: Reason and Revelation 37
  • Chapter Four - Nature and God 50
  • Chapter Five - Optimism and Evil 73
  • Chapter Six - Freedom and Destiny 89
  • Chapter Seven - Christianity and the Church 98
  • Chapter Eight - Humor and Liberty 120
  • Part Two - Part Two 135
  • Chapter Nine - Human Nature: the Social Affections 137
  • Chapter Ten - Self and Society 164
  • Chapter Eleven - Religion and Morals 184
  • Chapter Twelve - The Nature of Virtue 199
  • Chapter Thirteen - Virtue and Happiness 229
  • Chapter Fourteen - Creative Form: Beauty 246
  • Chapter Fifteen - Concluding Remarks 258
  • Notes 265
  • Selected Bibliography 281
  • Index 289
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