Igniting politics
From enthusiasm to fanaticism
in Political enthusiasm
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This chapter explores the origins of enthusiasm and its different varieties. The frame for this investigation is C. M. Wieland’s question on how to distinguish between enthusiasm and fanaticism. The chapter begins with a summary of Wieland’s own articulation of the problem and his working definitions, as well as the place he saw for enthusiasm in an increasingly rationalized world. Wieland himself considered his essay an initiation of debate on enthusiasm’s meaning. This chapter follows Wieland’s lead, contextualizing the previous articulations of enthusiasm on which his definitions and arguments rely. Further, in order to help place Wieland’s essay into the existing literature on this topic, this chapter divides Wieland’s concise history of enthusiasm into three categories: religious enthusiasm, enthusiasm as a bodily disease, and moral enthusiasm. The chapter discusses how these conceptualizations differ and why such differences are important for elucidating the concept of enthusiasm itself. The chapter concludes by noting how this context clarifies how enthusiasm can be reconceived as a political concept.

Political enthusiasm

Partisan feeling and democracy’s enchantments

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