Public Lecture "Anger, Powerlessness, and the Politics of Blame"

Wednesday, 19 December 2018, 5:15 pm, Room KO2-F-180

This lecture investigates the climate of simmering anger that disfigures most modern democracies, expressing itself in blaming and targeting of unpopular groups.  

Martha C. Nussbaum argues that a philosophical analysis of anger and its roots in experience of powerlessness can help us as we move forward. Beginning with an example from Greek tragedy in which retributive anger is refashioned into constructive work and hope, she focuses on the role of retributive desires in most instances of everyday anger. Furthermore she argues that the desire for payback is counter-productive, since replicating the offense does not correct it. 

Martha C. Nussbaum then looks at the roots of retributive desires in experiences of helplessness and argues that there is just one species of anger that can help us as we move forward. Called “Transition-Anger” because it faces toward the future, it has the following content: “How outrageous that is! It must not happen again.” This type of anger eschews retributive thinking in favor of constructive work and hope. She shows its relevance by studying the U. S. Civil Rights movement and the thought of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Admission to the lecture is free and without registration. However, the number of seats is limited and there is likely to be a large crowd. We will therefore also provide a videostream of the lecture in lecture hall KOL-G-217 EV.

Photo gallery

Podcast