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The Case Against Righteous Anger

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There is a lot of anger in the world right now. You hear it people’s voices; you feel it in the air. Turn on a TV and what will you see? Journalists snapping questions at politicians; politicians snapping back with indignation. Dip your toe into social media and what will you read? People seething and roiling in rage. Anyone who disagrees with them is a ‘fucking idiot’, ‘garbage’, ‘worthless’. The time for quiet reflection and dialogue is over. We are at war. Anger is our fuel.As someone raised to view anger as a bad thing, but who falls prey to it all the time, I find this to be unwelcome development. There are, however, some who believe that anger is a good thing. There are moral philosophers, for example, argue that anger is an essential foundation for our moral beliefs and practices — that it is an appropriate response to injustice. Amia Srinivasan, for instance, has argued that even if anger can be counterproductive it is, for victims of injustice, often ‘apt’ and we need to factor that into our understanding of injustice. Similarly, the philosopher Sally Haslanger has said that being angry is important because it helps her to care about certain political issues. Indeed, she cites the need for some anger as one reason why she quit doing certain Eastern meditative practices such as yoga:Eventually I quit doing yoga because I found it left me too cut off from the world, especially from the political engagement that I cared so much about. I didn't want to be serene. I didn't want to be centered. Or at least not as much as my involvement in yoga then required. My anger and my intensity are an important part of who I am, and I couldn't find a way to combine them with the yoga I was doing at the time. (Haslanger - “What is it like to be a philosopher?”)In his fascinating book, The Geography of Morals, Owen Flanagan takes a long hard look at this positive view of anger by contrasting it with the Buddhist/Stoic view of anger (which favours purging ourselves of. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

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