Anger and Forgiveness

Anger is among the most familiar phenomena in our moral lives. It is common to think that anger is an appropriate, and sometimes morally required, emotional response to wrongdoing and injustice. In fact, our day-to-day lives are saturated with inducements not only to become angry, but to embrace the idea that anger is morally righteous. However, at the same time, were all familiar with the ways in which anger can go morally wrong. We know that anger can eat away at us; it can render us morally blind; it can engulf our entire lives. So one might wonder: What exactly is the point of anger?

In Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice (Oxford University Press, 2016), Martha Nussbaum argues that, in its most familiar forms, anger is not only pointless, but morally confused and pernicious. Drawing lessons from the Stoics, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Nussbaum advocates replacing anger with forms of generosity, friendship, justice, and kindness. She develops her critique of anger across the spectrum of human experience, from the intimate, to the interpersonal, and eventually the political. Along the way, she proposes important revisions to common ideas about punishment, justice, and social reform.

New Books in Philosophy | 1st September 2016

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