Human nature and the limits of the self: Hans Morgenthau on love and power

Solomon, T. (2012) Human nature and the limits of the self: Hans Morgenthau on love and power. International Studies Review, 14(2), pp. 201-224. (doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2486.2012.01109.x)

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Abstract

International Relations (IR) has seen renewed interest in the nuanced insights of Hans Morgenthau which had long been obscured by neorealism. This new “reflexive realism,” however, far from exhausts the range of Morgenthau’s thinking about politics or social theory. In the 1960s, Morgenthau lamented the inability of modern thinking to recognize the connections between power and love, which he argued was symptomatic of the inability to fully understand either one. For Morgenthau, both power and love were rooted in the need to overcome the loneliness of the human condition. Through pursuits of both power and love, people seek, through others, to avoid the self’s insufficiency. Yet, these pursuits are mutually subversive. The frustration of love blends into the imposition of power, and the pursuit of power is ultimately an extension of the search for love. In exploring these issues, this paper argues that Morgenthau’s insights have implications for at least three core issues of contemporary concern in IR. First, they suggest fresh perspectives on recent discussions of human nature in IR. Second, Morgenthau’s analysis contributes to the burgeoning interest in emotions in IR, pointing to the neglect of love in this literature, and illustrates his attempt to theorize what may be called the affective limits of the self. Third, these insights can be used to enrich recent discussions of realist constructivism in IR.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Solomon, Dr Ty
Authors: Solomon, T.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:International Studies Review
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1521-9488
ISSN (Online):1468-2486

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