Sat, Mar 13|
Forum: On Anger
We studied an overview of the passions, now how about anger? We use Seneca's "On Anger" as a starting point.
Time & Location
Mar 13, 2021, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM GMT+1
About the Event
Greetings fellow Stoics!
Today will dive deeply into a specific passion: anger. In our last meetup we introduced and reviewed the passions generally for the Stoics. The passions were not just emotions to them. Emotions to us today seem nonchalant sensory reactions to things but to the ancient Stoics, the passions were moreso; they were strong judgment values of events. They emphasized that we shouldn't confuse our passions or judgment values of things with the events to which we are reacting. Furthermore, they advocated for controlling our passions. These events may be within or outside our control, but our passions are always within our control. Now, we focus on anger. In actuality, the Stoics understand four kinds of passions: lust, fear, delight, and distress. And although this is based on their definitions of each, they grouped anger in with lust, that is, specifically the lust of inflicting punishment on another. Seneca considered anger to be one of the key passions to get rid of that he dedicated an entire work to it, discussing its nature and techniques to ward oneself against it. We will base our discussion of anger and techniques how to combat on this work, translated as "Of Anger" or "On Anger". You can find two different translations of it here:
- https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Of_Anger (translated in 1900)
- http://www.sophia-project.org/uploads/1/3/9/5/13955288/seneca_anger.pdf (translated in 1928)
There are also secondary sources on Seneca's work on anger here, which provide summaries of it:
Interestingly, Seneca in his work is responding to Aristotle's notion of anger. Aristotle treated anger as a motivator to act virtuously. This was seriously in contradiction to the Stoics' idea that all passions are antithetical to becoming anger. This disagreement with Aristotle was one of Seneca's motivations for writing his work, a summary of which you can find in the last two secondary sources.
We also encourage you to also check the last event for further reading on the passions here: https://www.berlinstoics.com/event-details/forum-on-the-passions.
You can also post further recommended reading on the topic or related topics in our discussion forum, with the hashtag #onanger here: https://www.berlinstoics.com/forum/recommendations/on-the-passions.
For today's forum we will run the first hour as a discussion. Please submit Leitfragen/prompts you would like discussed either here in our forum https://www.berlinstoics.com/forum/weekly-leitfragen-prompts/march-6-2021-forum-on-the-passions-leitfragen with the hashtag #onanger or in our Telegram group chat (more on this below). You can submit yours right up until the start of the meet and Steve will select a few to cover. During the second hour we will review techniques how to control our anger.
And continue practicing! Catch yourself whenever you become overwhelmed by an emotion or some passionate or emotional reaction. Especially anger as this is our point of discussion. And then:
- Reflect on your passion, that it is just a judgment, an opinion and nothing else external to you which you cannot control, that it is within your power to dictate that passion;
- Contemplate the sage, meditate on how the ideal Stoic – they who are perfectly wise, just, courageous, and tempered – would react and act in your situation;
- Reflect on why you are feeling the way you are. A note about this third one: do not overthink the cause of your passion, do not focus or ruminate so much on it that you become distressed about it.
- A helpful tip for doing this activity is to write while you do this, keep a daily journal to meditate on these more.
- Lastly, remember that not all emotions are passions. Some emotions the Stoics had allowed. Read https://people.wku.edu/jan.garrett/stoa/stoipass.htm which states: "Not all the psychological conditions we now call emotions or feelings will be found in the classes of passion below. You will not find the good feelings of the sage there: wish, caution, and joy. You will not find the preliminary impressions or pre-emotions (propatheia) to which even the wise person is subject. You will not find eros (sometimes translated as "sexual love," but in the wise person it does not include a desire for intercourse). Nor will you find physical pleasure or physical pain. These two phenomena are not passions according to the Stoa; they are indifferent values; the former is in accord with nature and the latter is contrary to nature."
A couple of words: (1) If you haven't already, you can join our Telegram discussion group and our announcements channel by contacting us with your cell number and we'll add you. (2) The link to this event will be posted between 20 and 10 minutes ahead of the start time, and we use https://meet.jit.si/ for our video conferencing. (3) Lastly, we have recently been streaming our events live on youtube and saving them on file, especially for those who cannot make particular events; at the start of each event, Steve will of course ask if everyone is okay or anyone has a problem with this.
We look forward to seeing you there!