In Myisha Cherry & Owen Flanagan (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Anger. pp. 15-30 (2017)

Celine Leboeuf
Florida International University
My essay discusses the politics of anger from a phenomenological perspective. Philosophers such as Martha Nussbaum have examined the importance of emotions for achieving social justice. In Anger and Forgiveness, Nussbaum criticizes most forms of anger for including the desire to retaliate, but identifies a species of anger, “Transition-Anger,” which can motivate us to respond to wrongdoing. In a similar vein, I claim that anger can help the oppressed respond to their oppression. To defend this claim, I consider cases in which anger motivates a response to racial prejudice. These cases depict situations in which a black man is confronted with the gaze of a white person. By contrasting the phenomenology of skillful and unskillful activity, I explain why the white gaze can provoke a sense of disorientation and physical incapacitation—what I call “bodily alienation”—in the black man. I argue that anger can wrest a black person from this alienation. This is because anger encourages action and provides blacks with insight into their oppression. My argument implies that anger is instrumentally valuable for resisting racism. As such, it can play a positive role in redressing its harms. Yet the cases of anger I describe are tainted with desires for retaliation, and do not map onto the ideal form of Transition-Anger Nussbaum prizes. Still, anger should not be dismissed altogether: if it can transform the experiences of the oppressed for the better, then there is a place for this emotion in combating injustices.
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Outrage and the Bounds of Empathy.Sukaina Hirji - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
How to Take Offense: Responding to Microaggression.Regina Rini - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (3):332-351.
Anger and its Desires.Laura Silva - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):1115-1135.
The Epistemology of Anger in Argumentation.Moira Howes & Catherine Hundleby - forthcoming - Symposion. Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences.
The Efficacy of Anger.Laura Silva - 2021 - In Ana Falcato (ed.), The Politics of Emotional Shockwaves. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 27-55.

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