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Master Passions: Emotion, Narrative, and the Development of Culture Hardcover – April 1, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

We of the Western world tend to believe that reason, principles, and laws govern our decisions and actions. The authors of this scholarly work argue that the less obvious form of control is the master passions, which originate in anxiety and are expressed in ambition and envy. Moldoveanu (Rotman Sch. of Management, Univ. of Toronto) and Nohria (Harvard Business Sch.) here explore the effects of passion-induced behaviors in inter- and intrapersonal and institutional relationships. Enriching their own observations, experiments, and examples of passion's grip on our minds, the authors include many excerpted writings from a variety of philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, politicians, economists, poets, and novelists, from Socrates to 20th-century thinkers. Throughout, Moldoveanu and Nohria compare the natural science and social science approaches to behavior prediction and the inquiry process, explaining their own focus on "person hood," the "I" in us all, and the nature of introspective inquiry in the process of constructing explanations of behavior. This is a challenging work that should be appreciated by an educated audience; suitable for academic and large public libraries. Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


In contrast to currently fashionable views of the inner world of passion and desire as an introjection of discursive externalities, the authors have sought to understand social phenomena from within, restoring introspection as a legitimate means of understanding and knowledge. They have succeeded brilliantly.

(Yiannis Gabriel, Professor of Organizational Theory, Imperial College, University of London)

An acute, sometimes disturbing incursion into the emotional landscape of modernity. Moldoveanu and Nohria have effected an original synthesis between the phenomenology of consciousness, the psychology of deception and self-deception, and the culture of desire, deceit, and domination. It is scholarly throughout and often profound.

(Ellen J. Langer, Department of Psychology, Harvard University)

Master Passions is an insightful, brilliant, readable, and compelling book. Moldoveanu and Nohria are to be congratulated (and envied) for resuscitating the powerful world of the passions -- long but uneasily obscured by many trumpeted mythical beliefs in rationality.

(Neil J. Smelser, University Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley)

All of us, especially managers, must learn how our ambitions and actions contribute to our personal and organizational conditions. Master Passions provides a remarkable roadmap to help us be introspective in useful ways.

(James Champy, Chairman of Consulting, Perot Systems Corporation)

Rage, envy, jealousy, and ambition: awkward aberrations in our lives, or central to our sense-making and social structures? Master Passions persuasively reveals them at the core of our identities and relationships. These passions create narratives that we come to both trust and despise. The authors' creative use of introspective accounts, literature, and cross-disciplinary sources offers rewarding reading to scholars of emotion. By focusing on passions, this book is a worthy addition to the growing inquiries into emotion in and beyond organizations.

(Stephen Fineman, Professor of Organizational Behavior, School of Management, University of Bath, UK)

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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Hardcover: 269 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1St Edition edition (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262134055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262134057
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,286,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an ambitious and wide-ranging attempt at delving into the motivating underpinnings of human conduct, both for good and for ill.
You get some flavor of the book, when you look in the index and find the names of Michel Foucault, Rene Girard, Mikhail Bakunin, Camus, Thomas Kuhn, Heidegger, Isaiah Berlin, Arthur Koestler, Sartre, Umberto Eco, Karl Marx, Milton Friedman, Samuel Beckett, Hegel, Descartes, Pascal, Nietzsche, Bergson, Dostoyevsky, Emil Cioran, Kafka, Lenin, John Milton, Max Weber, Simmel, Wittgenstein.
With a strong philosophical orientation, the book was nevertheless shelved under "psychology" even though it was written by two graduate business school professors (Harvard, Toronto).
Some of the chapter headings are intriguing: "Anxiety: the Primeval Broth", "Ambition as Desire and the Will to Power", "Envy and Jealousy: The Master Ratchets", "Want, Will, Wish, Would: the Predicaments of Desire", "A Self Against Itself: An Aesthetic or Rage", "Soliloquies of the Candid Villain: Catharses of the Master Passions".
Personally, I found the book riveting. Once immersed in the discourse of the book, I could not put it down. The writing style reminds me of European writers like Catherine Clements or Slavoj Zizek though not Lacanian in the least, even if the subject matter circles around desire.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in books of this genre, mixing philosophy and the cultural sciences while ranging over a vast amount of territory in a short number of pages (to be exact, 231 pages without the references and index).
It's actually a fun book to read, and if one does not take it too seriously, a lot of laughs. Or if one does take it seriously, then a survival manual and roadmap for achieving ultimate status and power, while ruthlessly overcoming one's rivals.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great insight on how our culture has determined our aspirations and therefore, our anxieties, that affect our daily, personal lives. This book let's you put your emotions in a historical context... behind you, instead of in the control cabin of your "concocted self image"
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By A Customer on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One of the reasons there might be so many versions of this book used and in great condition is becasue when I and my partner tried to penetrate the dense, overwrought prose, we gave up, laughing. We're pretty well educated in matters of the self and the mind, and this book was too obscure for us to even TRY to decipher. It was recommended by a friend, and it's a lovely book, but ... wow, spend the ten bucks and give yourself a good laugh!
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