The Enlightenment of Sympathy

The Enlightenment of Sympathy : Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today

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Description

The Enlightenment is commonly referred to as 'The Age of Reason.' The term signifies the triumph of rationalism over emotionalism and sentiment in the late eighteenth century. Rationalists, the most famous of whom was Kant, posited a mind that was hierarchically arranged, with reason sitting atop of the passions. Yet as Michael Frazer argues, there were in fact two enlightenments-the sentimentalist enlightenment and the rationalist one-and the Enlightenment of Sympathy reclaims the importance of the former. As he explains, enlightened sentimentalism encompassed more than 'mere feeling' (as its critics claimed) and in fact harnessed the human mind in full to offer a positive account of the sentiments' centrality to moral and political reflection. Rather than treating the mind as a hierarchy, sentimentalists offered a more egalitarian theory of it. The mind, in their view, was integrated, and its various compartments were equals. Many of the most famous Enlightenment thinkers can rightly be called sentimentalists-Hume, Smith, and Herder, to name a few-yet the rationalist vision of politics has proven to be more influential. In fact, the most important political philosopher of liberalism of the past half century, John Rawls, relied on the rationalist enlightenment for his most important work. By reclaiming this equally important strand of enlightenment thought, Frazer not only offers a corrective to the dominant narrative of the Enlightenment political thought. His argument will also enrich contemporary political theory by integrating a more behaviorally-oriented and psychologically complex account of the mind into the corpus of liberal philosophy.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 162 x 236 x 24mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195390660
  • 9780195390667
  • 1,169,053

Review quote

Michael Frazer's The Enlightenment of Sympathy corrects a widely entrenched but nonetheless benighted reading of the Enlightenment. Frazer shows how the sentimentalist branch of the enlightenment anticipates much recent scholarship, both philosophical and neuroscientific, on the essential role of emotion. This precise and deft project of recovery should be read by anyone who wishes to be enthused by this superbly argued prophetic endeavor. * George E. Marcus, Professor of Political Science, Williams College, and author of The Sentimental Citizen * Michael Frazer has written a thought-provoking analysis and defense of sentimentalist theory. His excellent book is well written and carefully researched, offering insightful discussions of a wide range of thinkers. It will be of great interest to students and scholars working in, among other areas, moral theory, political theory, and eighteenth-century thought. * Charles L. Griswold, Professor of Philosophy, Boston University, and author of Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration *show more

About Michael L. Frazer

Michael L. Frazer is an Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard University. His research focuses on Enlightenment political philosophy and its relevance for contemporary political theory. Professor Frazer has also published articles on Maimonides, Nietzsche, John Rawls and Leo Strauss in such journals as Political Theory and The Review of Politics. Before arriving at Harvard, he studied at Yale and Princeton Universities, and received a postdoctoral appointment in the Political Theory Project at Brown University. He lives in Somerville, MA with his wife Coral and son Oren.show more

Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS; INTRODUCTION: A TALE OF TWO ENLIGHTENMENTS; I. THE NEW SCIENCE OF HUMAN NATURE; II. RELIGIOUS AND METAPHYSICAL FOUNDATIONS; III. THEORIES OF JUSTICE; I. SYMPATHY AND THE MORAL SENTIMENTS; II. MORAL DEVELOPMENT; III. HUME'S NORMATIVE THEORY; I. HUME'S THEORY OF JUSTICE; II. THE SENTIMENTALIST CASE AGAINST HUME'S THEORY; I. THE ALLEGED INCOMPATIBILITY OF SENTIMENTALISM WITH INDIVIDUALISM; II. THE SPACE BETWEEN ACTOR AND SPECTATOR: SYMPATHY AND MORAL JUDGMENT; III. THE SPACE BETWEEN ACTORS: JUSTICE AND NATURAL JURISPRUDENCE; I. THE CRITICAL-PERIOD POSITION ON THE FOUNDATIONS OF MORALS; II. THE CRITICAL-PERIOD NORMATIVE EVALUATION OF SYMPATHY; III. THE CRITICAL-PERIOD THEORY OF AFFECTS AND PASSIONS; IV. A CONTRASTING PRE-CRITICAL POSITION; I. SENTIMENTALISM AND THE PROBLEM OF DIVERSITY; II. FROM SYMPATHY TO DIVERSITY; III. FROM DIVERSITY TO EMPATHETIC UNDERSTANDING; IV. FROM EMPATHETIC UNDERSTANDING TO JUSTICE; I. SENTIMENTALISM AND SOCIAL SCIENCE; II. SENTIMENTALISM AND NORMATIVE THEORY; III. SENTIMENTALISM AND POLITICAL PRACTICE; BIBLIOGRAPHYshow more

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