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Political Cognition as Social Cognition: Are We All Political Sophisticates?

Political Cognition as Social Cognition: Are We All Political Sophisticates?

Chapter:
(p.48) Chapter Three Political Cognition as Social Cognition: Are We All Political Sophisticates?
Source:
The Affect Effect
Author(s):
Darren Schreiber
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226574431.003.0003

This chapter, which introduces Aristotle's arguments about human nature and Niccolo Machiavelli's thoughts about how human intelligence developed with the need to be more politically astute than one's rivals, hypothesizes about the neural architecture needed by people to navigate everyday political life. The kinds of political cognition that political scientists usually study, namely, thoughts about values, policies, coalitions, and leaders on the state, national, or international level, have co-opted the mental apparatus evolved for solving the problems of “everyday politics.” The development of the mirror neuron has been a critical early step in the direction of Machiavellian intelligence. The capacities for theory of mind and for social evaluation enable fruitful political cognition in the context of everyday politics. Accounting for the biological foundations of political attitudes can lead to conceptualizations that are richer in their implications for moral thinking and more familiar because they comport with the everyday experience.

Keywords:   political cognition, Aristotle, human nature, Niccolo Machiavelli, human intelligence, mirror neuron, Machiavellian intelligence, theory of mind, everyday politics

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