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Oxford University Press
15 November 2018
Philosophy; Ethics & moral philosophy; Social & political philosophy
Anger is not just ubiquitous, it is also popular. Many people think it is impossible to care sufficiently for justice without anger at injustice. Many believe that it is impossible for individuals to vindicate their own self-respect or to move beyond an injury without anger. To not feel anger in those cases would be considered suspect. Is this how we should think about anger, or is anger above all a disease, deforming both the personal and the political?

In this wide-ranging book, Martha C. Nussbaum, one of our leading public intellectuals, argues that anger is conceptually confused and normatively pernicious. It assumes that the suffering of the wrongdoer restores the thing that was damaged, and it betrays an all-too-lively interest in relative status and humiliation. Studying anger in intimate relationships, casual daily interactions, the workplace, the criminal justice system, and movements for social transformation, Nussbaum shows that anger's core ideas are both infantile and harmful. Is forgiveness the best way of transcending anger? Nussbaum examines different conceptions of this much-sentimentalized notion, both in the Jewish and Christian traditions and in secular morality. Some forms of forgiveness are ethically promising, she claims, but others are subtle allies of retribution: those that exact a performance of contrition and abasement as a condition of waiving angry feelings. In general, she argues, a spirit of generosity (combined, in some cases, with a reliance on impartial welfare-oriented legal institutions) is the best way to respond to injury. Applied to the personal and the political realms, Nussbaum's profoundly insightful and erudite view of anger and forgiveness puts both in a startling new light.
By:   Martha C. Nussbaum (Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics Law School and the Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   408g
ISBN:   9780190907266
ISBN 10:   0190907266
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   15 November 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and the Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Love's Knowledge, Sex and Social Justice, Philosophical Interventions, and Aging Thoughtfully, all from Oxford University Press, as well as Not for Profit, Upheavals of Thought, Creating Capabilities and Frontiers of Justice, among others. This book derives from her 2014 John Locke Lectures in Philosophy at Oxford University.

Reviews for Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice

This book represents an all-encompassing model to expand the current understanding of justice, anger and forgiveness...her argument permeates the logic of ethics, providing a fresh alternative to discussion in academic fields and specialized literature. * Maximiliano E Korstanje, International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies * I'm astonished and delighted. A self-styled upper middle class [ex]-WASP American, using intuitions drawn from Classical Greek and Roman literature and modern philosophy, explains better than most historians and political scientists how in South Africa we converted the sword of apartheid into the ploughshare of constitutional democracy. Brava, Martha, brava! Payback is not the way to go. * Albie Sachs, South African freedom fighter, writer and Constitutional Court Justice * This stunning book unsettles the foundations of political thought and practice in places like South Africa where anger is routinely dismissed as unproductive and forgiveness as inescapably part of an inherited humanity (Ubuntu). By linking the thought of ancient Greeks to that of contemporary activists such as King, Mandela and Ghandi, Martha Nussbaum creates new grounds for human encounter in which anger can be rediscovered as resource, and forgiveness set free from the logic of retribution. * Jonathan D. Jansen, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, South Africa * This book compels human rights activists to consider the move for activism, distinguishing between 'magical thinking' which the author rejects in favor of a rational approach to crime and punishment, where payback lowering of status have no role to play in defining a theory of justice. 'Transformative anger' is rooted in a theory of public good and social welfare, its revolutionary potential revealed by the author. In politics it is the difference between a repressive regime and a progressive one. Referring to revolutionary moments in history that changed the wrong doer and the wronged, the author explains the limited role that anger played while moving towards social good. * Indira Jaising, The Lawyer's Collective, India * This superlative study bristles with insights unexplored either in philosophy or the social sciences. These include conceptual comparisons among Gandhi, King and Mandela in the contexts of anger and forgiveness, violence and nonviolence. Nussbaum has long excelled as a philosopher and her abundant talent continues on display, enhanced by contemporary political analysis. She reveals how these leaders of mass movements diagnosed the roots of anger and violence in fear and then actualized prescriptions of forgiveness. Nussbaum thus extends in new directions important ideas advanced in her more recent books. This unique corpus of theory makes her work compulsory reading for an understanding of our politics and society today. * Dennis Dalton, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Barnard College, Columbia University and author of Mahatma Gandhi. Nonviolent Power in Action (2012) * Written with her usual mix of grace, precision, passion, and breathtaking scope, Nussbaum probes two seemingly polar emotions underlying our notions of justice-anger and forgiveness. She finds them part of the same vindictive drama, and each problematic. Her call is to move beyond them to become 'strange sorts of people, part Stoic and part creatures of love.' The book offers an important and timely challenge, a most worthwhile and enlightening read for those interested in philosophy, psychology, law, politics, religion-or simply living in today's world. * C. Daniel Batson, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Kansas * The book is deeply thought-provoking and persuasive. * Stuart Jesson (York St John University), Studies in Christian Ethics * In all, the work provides a key philosophical addition to her volumes on emotional development and political liberal justice... Her strict focus on leadership pronouncements rather than de facto psychological and sociological dynamics opens the analysis to charges of empirically inattentive moralizing. * Steven Schoonover, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities *

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