Word Count: 20793Utilitarianism and Liberalism, and how they have failed to engage with tragedy in ameaningful way. In Jeremy Bentham’s Utilitarian thought, the rigid distinction betweenactions as either promoting or denoting the greatest possible utility “precludes thepossibility of a clash between the two, effectively morally equal, courses of action” (ibid:7). With this distinction, the true element of tragedy is denied, as one course of action isalways better than the other, thus neglecting the possibility of opposing interestsconjuring a tragic and irresolvable outcome (ibid: 7). Albeit different from Bentham’sneglect, one also finds the neglect of genuine tragedy within elements of ImmanuelKant’s Liberal philosophy. For Kant, his emphasis on intentions over consequences, thatthe individual by doing the right thing receives vindication, closes the avenue forconsidering that these ‘good’ actions can in fact have tragic repercussions (ibid: 7).Morgenthau’s sentiments can be understood as very similar to those of Brown onthe apparent neglect of tragedy within traditional political thought. He saw this neglectspawned by the dominance of rationalism, which professed the ability to “mould both[the social and physical] worlds through the application of the same rational principles”(1947: 11). This static philosophy, Morgenthau held, could not account for the radicalchanges and events of the early to mid-twentieth century. For these events were the“outward manifestations of an intellectual, moral and political disease which ha[d] itsroots in the basic philosophic assumptions of the age” (ibid: 12). It was under theumbrella of rationalism that precise and absolute solutions infused with moral certainty,were prescribed to the political realm. Referencing events spanning from WoodrowWilson’s Fourteen Points through to Dumbarton Oaks, Morgenthau lamented that, “it isutopian to assume that a rational system of thought by its own inner force can transformthe conditions of man” (1945: 145). The prerationalist age, Morgenthau asserted had beeninvariably different in that by its awareness of the opposing forces of God and the devil,it actually understood the,
“tragic sense of life, the awareness of unresolvable discord, contradictions, and conflictswhich are inherent in the nature of things and which human reason is powerless to solve”(1947: 175).