ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Politics of ‘Sentimentalism’


The occasions of expressing sentiments publicly, parti­cularly by politicians, have, in recent times, been on the rise. We have very often noticed politicians, even those in power, becoming visibly sentimental. This “spectacle of tears” makes it imperative on our part to raise at least two basic questions. First, how does one justify the presence of sentiments/emotions in the political life of an enlightened demo­cracy which is expected to function within the limits of rationality and which is also expected to avoid crossing over to the “explosive” field of sentiments? Second, are these sentimental expressions innocent, healthy and morally sound? Can we completely rule them out from the political practices while ­experiencing democracy?

Democratic politics is supposed to operate along the lines of enlightened reason. In such a form of deliberative democracy, which involves appeal to reason, the sphere of sentiments, goodwill and emotions is put aside in the modernist flow and force of reason. Appeal to reason rather than emotion, goodwill or sympathy hurts even the violent emotions such as rage, thus forming the basis of conducting rational politics. Political ­action motivated by reasoned argument, thus, is the result of appeal to mind rather than heart. Therefore, those who are ­influenced by the enlightenment tradition of rationality would find it difficult to justify the public expression of sentiments in an enlightened democracy. Democracy, in recent times, has, however, been implicated in a difficult tension between sentiments and reason.

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Updated On : 10th Apr, 2021
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