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Moderation or the Middle Way: Two Approaches to Anger

From: Philosophy East and West
Volume 58, Number 1, January 2008
pp. 2-16 | 10.1353/pew.2008.0003


Most of us tend to be Aristotelians when it comes to anger. While admitting that uncontrolled anger is harmful and ought to be avoided, we reject as undesirable a state of being that would not allow us to express legitimate outrage. Hence, we seem to find a compelling moral attitude in Aristotle's belief that we should get angry at the right time and for the right reasons and in the right way. Buddhism and Stoicism, however, carve out a position on the issue of anger that stands in marked contrast to the Aristotelian conception. This article considers the similarities between these two views of anger, contrasts the Buddhist with the much more common (at least in the West) Aristotelian one, and, finally, considers the objections of a prominent Western scholar to this shared Buddhist/Stoic conception.