The Politics of Sour Grapes: Sartre, Elster, and Tocqueville on Emotions and Politics

37 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009

See all articles by Michael L. McLendon

Michael L. McLendon

California State University, Los Angeles

Date Written: August 24, 2009

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

McLendon, Michael L., The Politics of Sour Grapes: Sartre, Elster, and Tocqueville on Emotions and Politics (August 24, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1460905 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1460905

Michael L. McLendon (Contact Author)

California State University, Los Angeles ( email )

5151 State University Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90032
United States

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