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Appendix: On Laughter

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Chapter Summary

Laughter is a particularly complex psychological phenomenon. Scholars living in the early medieval Muslim environment had some specific basis for their own speculations on laughter, in addition to the general data of Greek medicine and philosophy. A Christian scholar, Job of Edessa, writing in Syriac and Arabic in the beginning of the ninth century, discussed laughter in his Syriac Book of Treasures. The matter (mâddah) and gravitational force (thiqal) serving laughter is the pure, even-tempered blood that is distributed all over the body. Ibn al-Matran had just quoted Ibn 'Imran's work on melancholy when he embarked upon his discussion of the physiological and psychological causes of laughter. Those, however, who think that laughter has its primary origin in the mentioned causes affecting the blood are wrong, for after joy, laughter (requires) astonishment of the soul.

Keywords: Job of Edessa; joy; laughter; mâddah; thiqal



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