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Emotions and politics: ancient questions, new answers

George Marcus

Manuela Guilherme

Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of University of Coimbra

January, 2024, 12h00 (GMT Lisbon/London)

Humans have lived in not one single polity but in many. Humans have lived as nomads, as huntergatherers, in settlements overseeing domesticated animals and agriculture. Also in social units of families of various kinds, tribes, clans, in expansive empires, and, of late, within nation states. That variability has fostered the question of which is the best. The effort to settle that question, rests of a trip of concepts: reason, emotion, and narrative. Each has long held a history casting good reasoning as ideal, emotion as malevolent, and narrative as contested, as a two faced phenomenon, problematic when narrative is used as demagoguery, or good when used as a form of public deliberation. These tools ill-serve. Neuroscience offers new understanding of each. Understandings that give new answers to the ancient query: what regime best serves humans. I offer brief sketches of the old tools and the new and what answers await.

Bio notes

George Marcus, Emeritus professor of political science at Williams College. His current research continues the role of emotion in democratic politics. He is the author, co-author, and co-editor of many books and has published numerous articles in political science journals, all available here. He was a co-editor as well as a contributor to several edited volumes. He was co-founder and, for 12 years, co-editor of the journal Political Methodology. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Political Psychology. He also has received numerous grants and awards.