Leadership by Resentment
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Leadership by Resentment

From Ressentiment to Redemption

Ruth Capriles

The author explores the conditions that foster the development of ressentiment, the role of leaders and followers, and the phases of the phenomenon as it encourages destructive behaviors such as murder and suicide. Often considered an incurable disease with destructive social and political repercussions, it is a core motive for acts of terrorism, revolutions, social upheavals and processes of toxic leadership. The author puts forth a model that helps to describe certain historical processes led by ressentiment, like some revolutions and terrorist acts, and to distinguish them from other movements that are usually treated as similar (e.g., independence revolutions). The book then tackles a seemingly impossible question: Can we find a cure for this powerful and destructive impulse? With care and deliberation, the author demonstrates the power of ethical leadership, recognition and redemption as positive unifying forces during human conflicts.
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Chapter 2: The passion

Ruth Capriles


David Hume posed the problem as a dilemma and, more, as a dictum or a prohibition: ‘Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them’ (Hume 1975: II, III, III). Three centuries of philosophical discussion around the question continues well into the 21st century (see for example, Prinz 2003), and we keep on getting caught in the dilemma, somehow or another. Either we say Hume is right and we are slaves of our passions or we say he is wrong and reason controls behavior. Theorists that agree with Hume maintain that emotions are not cognitive (from W. James (1884, 1894) and Lange (1922), to the more recent Damasio (1994) and Zajonc (1984)). Zajonc insists that emotions are phylogenetically and ontogenetically prior to cognitions. New scientific research in biochemistry, genetics, neurobiology, reveal biological bits (like genes, chemicals in the brain, neurological nets, metabolic cycles, etc.) and enforce Hume’s view of emotions as ‘passions’ which act without the control of reason, at least in the short term.

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