By Edward John Routh
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Additional info for A treatise on dynamics of a particle
The irony is rich: rational cosmopolitanism disavows a critical dynamic that marginalizes feeling only by disavowing its own affective motives. So, for example, while rational cosmopolitanism advocates a mode of reading that embraces sympathy—as opposed to a mode of reading that purports to expurgate feeling—it paradoxically does so only by positioning sympathetic reading as the more rational alternative. I suggest that this rhetorical dynamic is particularly problematic because it renders the rational cosmopolitan project one that is inherently reasonable, even though it is precisely assumptions about what is reasonable that rational cosmopolitanism purports to uncover and rework.
In both Age of Iron and The Master of Petersburg, Coetzee qualifies the skepticism evident in his earlier works. These two novels move toward a significantly messier representation of sympathy. While some kind of connection with others is possible in these works, it does not always have the salvific character that current scholarship on Coetzee’s representation of sympathy suggests. Mrs. Curren, after all, finds “no warmth” in Vercueil’s embrace (Age of Iron 198), while Fyodor Mikhailovich issues his defense of passion in the midst of the intense estrangement of mourning.
What is generally not in question, however, is the desirability of a perfectly conscientious, visceral cosmopolitan sympathy for furthering cosmopolitan political agendas, whether those agendas seek to negotiate more just agreements within existing international legal institutions, or to imagine alternative forms of international politics outside of those institutions. 36 J. M. Coetzee and the Limits of Cosmopolitanism Central to my argument is my proposition that this formulation of cosmopolitanism, which looks forward to the articulation and practice of a broadly defined yet deeply felt human sympathy, limits the scope of cosmopolitanism.
A treatise on dynamics of a particle by Edward John Routh