Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7011-6696

Year of Publication

2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Ernest Yanarella

Abstract

The theme of this dissertation is the anti-cultural turn of Western Political Thought that has emerged out of Enlightenment thinking and was first turned into a comprehensive political idea by Thomas Hobbes.

Beginning with an overview of psychological research into the phenomenon of culture I put forward the argument that human beings are by nature social and individualistic, but that they oscillate between their ability to put group-interests before individual interests and vice versa. Culture is the main mechanism that influences which interest we give priority. This mechanism work through emotional attachments that create intuitions about what is morally right and wrong, thereby influencing final behavioral outcomes.

The Enlightenment and Thomas Hobbes viewed these emotional attachments as an insufficient or dangerous fundament for social action, leading to a philosophical approach that put rational individualism at the center of its moral matrix, diminishing the importance of the emotional attachments created by culture.

In my dissertation I investigate the consequences of this reductionist view on culture, and what it can mean for societies and institutions.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2020.313

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