International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Irregular Passions: Some Comments on the Nature and Origins of Contemporary Populism
Professor Michael Tracey

This essay notes that in understanding what Hannah Arendt called “the human condition” there is a tendency to draw upon literatures from the humanities, in particular social and cultural theory. This is perfectly proper and necessary. However, the essay goes on to suggest that it is increasingly apparent that these literatures may no longer be sufficient. The roots of this conclusion lie in the emerging findings that place aspects of who we are individually and collectively in the brain, as increasingly revealed by the findings of neuroscience. The essay explores the argument that broadly humanistic literatures need to be supplemented by findings out of brain science by looking at a case study of how the latter may enhance our understanding of contemporary populist political and social movements that have become such a hallmark of life in these early years of the twenty first century.

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