The Politics of Sour Grapes: Sartre, Elster, and Tocqueville on Emotions and Politics
37 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 24, 2009
Two philosophers, Jean-Paul Sartre and Jon Elster, have taken great interest in the famous children’s fable, “The Fox and the Grapes.” Elster believes the fable teaches us that opportunities shapes desires while Sartre contends it demonstrates how consciousness alleviates the frustrations associated with failure. In this essay, I will break down the cognitive and emotional processes that are involved in sour grapes, and through Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, demonstrate how sour grapes shapes democratic political life. Politics, as Tocqueville knew, is as much about frustration and emotion as desires and rationality.
Keywords: Sartre, Tocqueville, Elster, Emotions, Politics
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