A political economist explains how feelings have undermined facts, destabilized governments, and placed us all on high alert.
In this age of intense political conflict, we sense objective fact is growing less important. Experts are attacked as partisan, statistics and scientific findings are decried as propaganda, and public debate devolves into personal assaults. How did things reach this point, and what can we do about it?
Drawing on a 400-year history of political and scientific ideas, William Davies explores how physical and emotional feelings came to reshape our world. He traces the social roles of expertise from the Enlightenment to the present, and shows how bodily sensations we once treated with suspicion (especially fear, resentment, and pain) have come to seem more “real” than testable truth. Yet Davies suggests that the rise of emotion may open new possibilities for confronting humanity’s greatest challenges. As we enter a new technological and political era, this ambitious and original book offers an essential guide to the nervous states in which we now live.