Anger, Gratitude, and Enlightenment Sociability

Patrick Coleman

in Anger, Gratitude, and the Enlightenment Writer

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199589340
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723322 | DOI:
Anger, Gratitude, and Enlightenment Sociability

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This chapter examines how entitlements to anger and obligations of gratitude were redefined in eighteenth-century France, a society in which cultural status began to be based on talent rather than rank alone. Interpersonal relations also began to be imagined not only in terms of polite reciprocity, of the exchange of favors or gifts, but of equal and impersonal rights. It argues that Enlightenment writers enhanced their cultural status, on the one hand by using their sensitivity to insults or favors as proof that they deserved greater respect; and on the other, by representing themselves as free from emotional dependence on others and therefore as meritorious embodiments of impersonal reason. The argument is grounded in recent work by Martha Nussbaum, William Reddy, Robert Solomon, and others, according to which emotions are more than physiological states and should be understood as cognitive judgments and socialized dispositions.

Keywords: favor; gift; insult; law; politeness; rights; reciprocity; Martha Nussbaum; William Reddy

Chapter.  14245 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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