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Identitarian passions: the overwhelming power of the human recognition need


  • Nicolò Bellanca


  • Giancarlo Pichillo



According to Plato, thymòs—a notion denoting the human need for recognition—triggers off the most powerful and overwhelming human passions. Indeed, any action originated and nurtured by thymòtic passions places its own raison d’être in itself. The acts motivated by thymòs can either improve or (even) worsen someone’s wellness: they do not entail any pay-off in the present or future, and their nature is not influenced nor mitigated by monetary incentives. Moreover, it follows that since identity is based on the others’ recognition (both individuals and social groups), then indulging with thymòtic passions and building up someone’s own identity are exactly the same process. Indeed, thymòtic passions are identitarian passions. This paper argues the relevance of the thymòtic approach. We do propose a conceptual framework that we reckon is useful and innovative in order to study and interpret these peculiar forms of human action. We also point out the social and “environmental” conditions that stimulate their appearance. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolò Bellanca & Giancarlo Pichillo, 2014. "Identitarian passions: the overwhelming power of the human recognition need," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 61(1), pages 13-38, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:inrvec:v:61:y:2014:i:1:p:13-38
    DOI: 10.1007/s12232-014-0194-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Uri Gneezy & Stephan Meier & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2011. "When and Why Incentives (Don't) Work to Modify Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
    2. ATTANASI Giuseppe & NAGEL Rosemarie, 2008. "A Survey of Psychological Games: Theoretical Findings and Experimental Evidence," LERNA Working Papers 08.07.251, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    3. Scott Atran & Robert Axelrod & Richard Davis, 2007. "Sacred barriers to conflict resolution," Post-Print ijn_00505181, HAL.
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    More about this item


    Passion; Rationality; Identity; Recognition; Institutional change; Homo oeconomicus; Thymòs; Performance; A12; B59; Z13;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B59 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Other
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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