Introduction: A New Rhetoric of Passions

in The Secret History of Emotion

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780226309798
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226309934 | DOI:
Introduction: A New Rhetoric of Passions

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Reading Aristotle, or for that matter most canonized literature up to the nineteenth-century social realism of E´mile Zola and Charles Dickens, might give one the impression that people from a lowly station have no emotions at all, let alone the emotions of social responsibility, such as magnanimity or angry indignation. As Aristotle famously observes in the Poetics, the finest tragedies are “always on the story of some few houses,’’ such as Oedipus, because the misfortune of someone better than us matters most. The contours of our emotional world have been shaped by institutions such as slavery and poverty that simply afford some people greater emotional range than others, as they are shaped by publicity that has nothing to do with the inherent value of each human life and everything to do with technologies of social recognition and blindness. This book aims to explain how these technologies of emotion work.

Keywords: social realism; passions; emotions; slavery; poverty; emotional range; publicity; technologies

Chapter.  7059 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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