History of Modern Philosophy

Rationality and Positive Political Roles for Emotions: Solidarity and Benevolence

The purpose of the second symposium is to investigate the interactions between rationality and passions suited as emotional cement for concerted social action: benevolence and solidarity.

Liberty, Armed with the Scepter of Reason, Strikes Down Ignorance and Fanaticism (Original Language Title: La Liberté armée du sceptre de la Raison foudroyé l’Ignorance et le Fanatisme). Jean-Baptiste Chapuy, French (c. 1760-1802) After Simon Louis Boizot
Liberty, Armed with the Scepter of Reason, Strikes Down Ignorance and Fanaticism (Original Language Title: La Liberté armée du sceptre de la Raison foudroyé l’Ignorance et le Fanatisme). Jean-Baptiste Chapuy, French (c. 1760-1802) After Simon Louis Boizot, French (Paris, France 1743 - 1809 Paris, France)
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Main content

Questions around the constructive vs. destructive potential of emotions have recently returned into the focus of academic debates about nationalism, identity, and populism in theory, practice, and discourse. Placing the emotions and passions at the centre of political research and analysis, followers the so-called “Affective Turn” oppose the liberal idea that politics should exclusively focus on reasoned arguments. In social and political contexts, the consequent conceptual displacement of the ideal political subject as preference-oriented, rational decision-maker by the “emotional” subject threatens to prevent striking the delicate balance between the rational and the emotions that might be essential for sound as well as effective decision-making and successful discourse. There are, thus, good reasons to be critical of the “affective turn” in political theory and practice. Seeking to bridge the divide, the conference aims to investigate which forms of rationality can fruitfully interact with emotions in the service of what has been referred to as “public passions” (Tocqueville) or “common sympathies” (Mill) – passions suited as emotional cement for concerted social action tending to the creation of a common project, or to the elimination of the multiple forms of unnecessary human suffering. Historically the concepts of “benevolence” and “solidarity” have been posited as two different emotional horizons where reason and emotions could intersect and react positively to one another. Just as other emotional horizons, however, also benevolence and solidarity are fraught with an inherent ambivalence. Sensitive to their inherent ambiguities, the conference will explore both the positive and the negative sides of benevolence and solidarity in the political sphere. It will investigate what forms of rationality can dialogue with benevolence and solidarity, and what preconditions enable these emotions to figure as constructive political and social factors.


Thursday 16th June

10.00-10.30: Coffee & welcome

10.30-11.00: . Guðmundur Heiðar Frímannsson, (Akureyri, Island): Citizenship and the emotions: The glue that holds political societies together. (digitally)

11.00-11.30: Hans Marius Hansteen, (UiB): Solidarity and the Politics of Imagination

11.30-11.45: Coffee break

11.45-12.15: Paola de Cuzzani (UiB): The principle of solidarity between sentiment and reason: a reflection  starting from L. Bourgeois' solidarism. 

12.15-12.45: Alberto Giordano (UniGe, Italy): Secure the Blessing of Liberty to our Posterity”. The Founding Fathers, Rationality and Intergenerational Solidarity. 

12.45-13.30: Discussion

13.30-15.00: Lunch

15.00-15.30: Anne Granberg, (UiB):  On the value of distance: An Arendtian perspective on politics and social media. 

15.30-16.00: Anat Biletzki, (Quinnipiac, USA): Arendt on Solidarity: Pure Rationality. (digitally)

16.00-16.15: Coffee break

16.15-16.45: Dora Elvira García González, (UNAM, Mexico):Notes for the construction of a philosophy of peace through reason and emotions: a joint proposal from Rawlsian theory and the philosophy of care. (digitally)

16.45-17.15: César Akim Erives Chaparro (Monterrey, Mexico): The role of indignation and other moral sentiments in the construction of a common (and solidary) sense of justice. (digitally)

17.15-17.45: Discussion

Friday 17th June

10.00-10.30: Ingmar Meland, (Oslo-Met): Democratic Passion, Creative Democracy, and the Rationality of a Hatred. 

10.30-11.00: Jean Christophe Merle (Vechta, Germany) Begging for Benevolence. A Kantian perspective. (digitally) 

11.00-11.15: Coffee break

11.15-11.45: Marie-Luisa Frick, (Innsbruck, Austria): Guarding against toxic and/or inoperative solidarity: The merit of rational reflection and its limits. (digitally) 

11.45-12.15: Juliette Grange, (Tours, France): Populist Emotion versus Neoconservatisme, a new cultural war in extreme right.  

12.15-13.45: Discussion

13.45-14.30: Lunch

14.30-15.00: Pascal Nouvel, (Tours, France): Making and unmaking political emotions with narratives: How to shape solidarity with words.  

15.00-15.30: Carola Freiin von Villiez (UiB): The invisible hand of public reason and public affections. (digitally)

15.30-15.45: Coffee break

15.45-16.15:  Fabricio Pontin, (LaSalle, Brazil):  Political emotions, cognitive framing and freedom of speech: an interpretation from the standpoint of the capabilities approach. (digitally)

16.15-16.45: Tatiana Vargas Maia, (LaSalle, Brazil):  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Nationalism as a Landscape of Political Emotions in Contemporary International Relations. (digitally)

16.45-17.15: Discussion

Saturday 18th June

10.30-11.00: Filipe Campello, (UFPE Recife, Brazil): Making solidarity a transnational (and decolonized) political emotion.   

11.00-11.30: Dag Erik Berg, (Molde): Gandhi’s concept of non-violence and the Mardøla struggle

11.30-11.45: Coffee break

11.45-12.15: Franz Knappik, (UiB): Solidarity, humanism and identity: Thoughts from Fanon and Glissant

12.15-12.45: Discussion

Hybrid format

As the second main symposium in the project “Rationality and the Emotions in political discourse” which is based in the research group “Culture, Society and Politics” at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Bergen, it will run in hybrid format to accommodate for full international participation under current conditions.