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Blupete's Weekly Commentary


April 15th, 2001.

"Sentimentality."

"Evil is wrought by want of Thought
As well as want of Heart."1

It is normal for people (no matter they have no minds or hard minds) to have soft hearts. Nature has wisely provided all of us -- because of the importance of familial relationships -- with emotional responses, such as sorrow or pity. When we are faced by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of one of our own we are prompted, varying in proportion to our degree of connectivity to the suffering person, through compassion and sympathy, by a desire to relieve the observed distress. These human feelings are among those of the highest order. However, it needs to be said, that sentimentality is the Protean and indescribably subtle enemy of common sense.

The orator, the political manipulator, for whom we must always be on the lookout, will attempt to use sentimentality to his advantage. It is his purpose to move his audience to strong emotion, to stir up feelings. For he knows that every thought prompted by passion, termed a sentiment, produces a propensity to act. Those who speak for a particular interest to which they subscribe, set out, insincere and mawkish though they be, to excite the passions of the people to advance but only their own selfish objectives; their endeavours have little to do with bringing relief to the suffering, distress, or misfortune of any particular human being.2

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NOTES:

1 These lines were cited by the OED, "1845 Hood Lady's Dream xvi." I believe this would be the English humorist and poet, Thomas Hood (1799-1845).

2 For further views, see my commentaries on orator and passion.

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Peter Landry

April, 2001 (2011)