I had the privilege of reviewing Karen Pagani’s excellent history of modern attitudes toward sentiment and emotion.
A couple of excerpts from my review:
“Pagani’s achievement…is to develop…a conceptual apparatus through which readers can trace the origin and development of modern attitudes towards anger and forgiveness. Pagani outlines what might be called a political or moral economy of anger and forgiveness.”
“Prior to Rousseau, Pagani writes, conceptions of anger and forgiveness — in the work of, for example, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Montesquieu, Butler, Diderot, D’Alembert, Holbach, Helvétius, Morelly, and Voltaire — followed a similar, essentially Christian pattern. Simply put, anger was seen as a danger to the social order and forgiveness as a moral obligation brought about by the urgency of the need to dissipate anger. Anger was a privilege of the aristocracy alone. Forgiveness, correspondingly, could be bestowed only by a superior upon an inferior. Rousseau rejected both assumptions — both the notion that anger constituted an inherent danger, and the notion that only those of a certain social status had title to anger.”