July/Aug 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 4 July 11, 2022 |

The Practice of Anger in a Warming World

Anger is a controversial emotion in moral philosophy. Both Plato and Aristotle connected anger with a desire for justice, but the Stoics—who carried the day in ancient Rome and enjoy ongoing life in the boardrooms of Silicon Valley—thought that the mark of a good man is his capacity never to lose his cool. Jesus, of course, recommended turning the other cheek, and wrath was named one of the seven deadly sins by the medieval church. Even Hume, Hutcheson, Shaftesbury, and Smith—the eighteenth-century philosophers of sentiment who put emotions at the center of our moral life—tried to separate out “anger” from “righteous indignation,” the latter a sensation supposedly purified of any taint of the desire to hurt evildoers in revenge for their evil deeds. Modern America’s most popular moral philosopher, Martha Nussbaum, makes largely the same move. And the popular culture of “self-care,” which passes for ethics in our individualistic, neoliberal age, encourages us no

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Photo of Genevieve Guenther
A Shakespeare scholar by training, Dr. Genevieve Guenther is Founding Director of End Climate Silence and affiliate faculty at the New School, where she also sits on the advisory board of the Tishman Environment and Design Center. Her book The Language of Climate Politics is forthcoming (Oxford University Press, 2024). Guenther lives in New York City’s West Village with her family.

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By Shara Lessley

Anger is a controversial emotion in moral philosophy. Both Plato and Aristotle connected anger with a desire for justice, but the Stoics—who carried the day in ancient Rome and enjoy […]

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