Passion and politics

Philosophy and Social Criticism 28 (6):617-633 (2002)
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Passion is a hidden issue behind or at the heart of, contemporary theoretical debates about nationalism, identity politics and religious fundamentalism. It is not that reason and passion cannot be conceptually distinguished. They are, however, always entangled in practice - and this entanglement itself requires a conceptual account. So it is my ambition to blur the line between reason and passion: to rationalize (some of) the passions and to impassion reason. Passionate intensity has a legitimate place in the social world. This extension of rational legitimacy to the political passions seems to me a useful revision of liberal theory which has been too pre-occupied in recent years with the construction of dispassionate deliberative procedures. It opens the way for better accounts of social connection and conflict and for more explicit and self-conscious answers to the unavoidable political questions: which side are you on? Key Words: conviction • interest • liberalism • passion • politics • Yeats.
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