PHI 135 University of Liverpool Political Resistance and Anger Essay

PHI 135 University of Liverpool Political Resistance and Anger Essay PHI 135 University of Liverpool Political Resistance and Anger Essay ORDER NOW FOR CUSTOMIZED AND ORIGINAL NURSING PAPERS Unformatted Attachment Preview ANGER AS A POLITICAL EMOTION PHI135 Writing Philosophy – Lecture Eleven IN THIS LECTURE … • We will look at Amia Srinivasan’s paper, ‘The Aptness of Anger’ • Srinivasan puts forward a claim about the appropriateness of anger and about injustice related to the expression of anger • She is specifically interested in the anger of victims of social oppression • In this lecture we introduce her claims and look at the view of the nature of emotion that she seems to presuppose THE THESIS • Srinivasan’s argumentative aims in this paper can be found at the end of Section I • She says that she wants to look at situations in which anger may be ‘counterproductive but nevertheless apt’ • She wants to argue 1) that in such situations ‘reasons of prudence and reasons of aptness come apart, generating substantive normative conflict’ • 2) It is not always obvious that reasons of prudence outweigh reasons of aptness • 3) Such conflicts represent a hitherto unrecognised form of injustice – ‘affective injustice’ CLARIFYING THE THESIS • What is the difference between ‘being counterproductive’ and ‘being apt’? • What are ‘reasons of prudence’? • What are ‘reasons of aptness’? • What is ‘substantive normative conflict’? • And why does Srinivasan think that such conflict represents a form of injustice? CLARIFYING THE THESIS • My reconstruction of Srinivasan’s thesis: • There are some situations in which one has genuine cause for anger: one has something important to be angry about • Furthermore, it can be the case that denying one’s anger would involve a kind of dishonesty, or even a loss of integrity • In some situations people do have genuine cause to be angry about having been treated unjustly, but have to deny their anger • This can be the case e.g. of people who have been mistreated by the powerful, and where the powerful continue to be able to exert their power over those they have mistreated THE DEBATE • Srinivasan’s starting point is a debate that took place between James Baldwin and William Buckley at the Cambridge University Union in 1965 • The motion for the debate was ‘Has the American Dream been at the expense of the American Negro?’ • Baldwin defends the motion, Buckley contests itPHI 135 University of Liverpool Political Resistance and Anger Essay • But the debate is much deeper than this formal Students’ Union encounter • THE DEBATE • Srinivasan is interested in the question of how African Americans in the US should respond to the history of slavery • The debate is not over the historical facts • Or over the moral claim that African Americans were oppressed and seriously wronged • Or even over the claim that there is continuing oppression of African Americans, and that it continues in large part because of that historical oppression • The question is what African Americans (and perhaps other oppressed people) should do now, and in particular what their emotional attitudes should be • Get angry? Or contain that anger in order to look for reconciliation? THE DEBATE • Srinivasan quotes Baldwin: • ‘I am stating very seriously, and this is not an overstatement: that I picked the cotton, and I carried to market, and I built the railroads, under someone else’s whip, for nothing . . . for nothing. The southern oligarchy which has until today so much power in Washington . . . was created by my labour and my sweat, and the violation of my women and the murder of my children. This, in the land of the free and the home of the brave. And no one can challenge that statement. It is a matter of historical record.’ THE DEBATE • And she quotes Buckley’s response: • ‘What in fact shall we do about it? What shall we in America try to do . . . To eliminate those psychic humiliations which I join Mr Baldwin in believing are the very worst aspects of this discrimination? . . . I agree with you that we have a dastardly situation, but I’m asking you not to make politics as the crow flies . . .[Negroes] have done a great deal to focus on the fact of white discrimination against Negroes. They have done a great deal to agitate a moral concern. But where in fact do they go now?’ THE DEBATE • Srinivasan is interested in Buckley’s disagreement with Baldwin about the justifiability of African American anger • Buckley’s points to the consequences of getting angry • He thinks it will lead African Americans to violence against whites, and will therefore lead whites into violence against African Americans: an escalating conflict, making racial harmony impossible • However, Srinivasan’s view is that this is not a satisfactory answer to Baldwin • It does not address the fact that African Americans have genuine cause for anger • And that to deny their anger can involve painful dissembling or even a loss of integrity THE DEBATE • Thus Srinivasan is interested in the way in which the debate between Baldwin and Buckley echoes a wider philosophical debate about the place of anger in the good human life • Should we aim for a life in which anger is never experienced, or if it is experienced, it is suppressed or denied? • Or is anger an important human response to injustice, which, although it needs to be handled with caution, is a necessary part of caring about what has been done, and the suppression of which can amount to dishonesty? THE DEBATE • Srinivasan points out that there have been important Stoic and Christian voices against anger: • ‘The other emotions have in them some element of peace and calm, while this one is wholly violent and has its being in an onrush of resentment, raging with a most inhuman lust for weapons, blood, and punishment, giving no thought to itself if only it can hurt another, hurling itself upon the very point of dagger, and eager for revenge though it may drag down the avenger along with it.’ (Seneca, quoted by Srinivasan, p. 124) • See also G. Pettigrove, ‘Meekness and “Moral” Anger’ THE DEBATE PHI 135 University of Liverpool Political Resistance and Anger Essay • By contrast, Srinivasan wants to give a hearing to the other side – that there is something that African Americans have to be angry about • So her inquiry concerns what can be said in favour of anger, even though that it may risk disastrous consequences • NB. This is not just a question of whether African Americans’ anger can be excused • E.g. whether, given the circumstances, a loss of emotional self-control could be understood and tolerated • It is rather the question whether in some way anger is the right and justifiable response to African Americans’ situation THE ARGUMENT • First of all, Srinivasan notes that anger can have good consequences • ‘It is historically naïve, after all, to think that white America would have been willing to embrace King’s vision of a uni?ed, post-racial nation, if not for the threat of Malcolm X’s angry de?ance. It is perhaps similarly naïve to think anger contains no salutary psychic possibilities for someone whose self-conception has been shaped by degradation and hatred.’ (p. 126) • E.g. an oppressed group getting angry can have good social consequences because it can help that group get its voice heard and taken seriously • And it can have good personal consequences because it can restore pride in the face of oppression THE ARGUMENT • However, she thinks that assessments of anger that only look at its consequences leave something important out: • That is, whether the anger is itself justified as an intelligent response to the situation • ‘[I]s it the ?tting response to the way the world is? Is the anger, however unproductive, apt?’ (p. 126) THE ARGUMENT • Her argument could thus be explained as: • 1) anger might be fitting though counterproductive, • 2) that this puts oppressed people in a situation of normative conflict – where there are conflicting valid demands • 3) that it is not always obvious that the counterproductive course of action is outweighed by the badness of the consequences • 4) that it is a hitherto unrecognised aspect of oppression that the oppressed are unjustly put in this situation where they must decide whether to swallow their anger and act e.g. politely or express their anger honestly and potentially make things even worse THE ARGUMENT • Srinivasan draws a distinction between intrinsic and instrumental reasons for emotion • She says that while discussions of emotions in political life tend to focus on instrumental reasons, discussion of emotion is interpersonal life focus on intrinsic reasons • What does she mean by intrinsic and instrumental? • Intrinsic = fitting and instrumental = concerned only with consequences THE ARGUMENT • Take her example of an argument over whether you are justified in being angry with me because I am late (again) • ‘Suppose you are my friend, and I ask you what reason you have for being angry with me. You respond: ‘because you were late again!’ I say: ‘well, you shouldn’t be. I told you I was going to be late’. The subject of our conversation is whether your anger about my lateness really is fitting, whether my lateness constitutes a genuine intrinsic reason for your anger.’ (p. 127) • Now consider an instrumental reason (given by an unfaithful lover): • ‘You shouldn’t be angry with me because it is only going to make me do it again’ • This second response does not deny that you are right to be angry – it just points out that your anger will be counterproductive THE ARGUMENT • Intrinsic reasons for an emotion are based in the fit between the emotion and the situation • Whether the situation itself gives grounds for anger that are independent of the future good or bad consequences of getting angryPHI 135 University of Liverpool Political Resistance and Anger Essay • That is, whether the anger reflects or corresponds to the nature of the situation • Whereas instrumental reasons are based in whether having (or acting on) the emotion serves our other goals IN THIS LECTURE … • We have looked at the debate that Srinivasan takes as her starting point • And we have looked at the contribution she seeks to make to it • She is particularly interested in the justifiability of African American anger • This involves looking at the philosophical debate about the nature of anger and its value • It also involves claims about the nature of emotion, which we will investigate in more detail in the next lecture PHI135 WRITING PHILOSOPHY Lecture Twelve: Assessing Srinivasan’s View of Emotion IN THIS LECTURE … • We will start to assess Srinivasan’s argument • We will look in particular at the view about the nature of emotion that underpins her argument • She assumes that emotions are cognitive rather than noncognitive states • We will explore that view • And we will also raise some questions about it REASONS FOR EMOTION • As we said in the last lecture, Srinivasan draws a distinction between intrinsic and instrumental reasons for emotion • She says that while discussions of emotions in political life tend to focus on instrumental reasons, discussion of emotion in interpersonal life focus on intrinsic reasons • We may have instrumental reasons against being angry, but intrinsic reasons in favour of being angry REASONS FOR EMOTION • How could there be intrinsic reasons for emotion? • Srinivasan relies on an understanding of emotion that is similar to that put forward by Alison Jaggar (whose paper she refers to) • Jaggar opposes what she calls the ‘Dumb View’ of emotions EMOTION AND REASON • To understand the Dumb View we need to distinguish between cognitive and noncognitive responses to the world • One of the things that human beings do is to form beliefs about the world • Beliefs are cognitive states: they involve ‘aiming at the truth’ • That is, when we form beliefs about the world, we are aiming to grasp the way the world is • By contrast, other states of our minds are non-cognitive • For instance, simple pains and pleasures like the sensation of sinking into a warm bath or of placing one’s finger in a flame • When we experience pains and pleasures, this is not because we are attempting to grasp how the world isPHI 135 University of Liverpool Political Resistance and Anger Essay • In this sense, pains and pleasures are ‘dumb’ in comparison to beliefs EMOTION AND REASON • According to Jaggar, the Dumb View sees emotions as noncognitive states • It identifies emotions with ‘the physical feelings or involuntary bodily movements that typically accompany them, such as pangs or qualms, flushes or tremors’ • But Jaggar thinks that the Dumb View is wrong about the nature of emotions • Jaggar thinks that emotions have to be seen as cognitive states • Like Srinivasan, she thinks that emotions can be fitting responses to situations, the way that (true, justified) belief about a situation is a fitting response to that situation EMOTION AND REASON • Jaggar argues that the Dumb View cannot explain three features of emotion that make them more like cognitive states: • Like beliefs, emotions are intentional • Like beliefs, emotions are, or are influenced by, social constructs • Like beliefs, emotions are or involve active engagements with the world EMOTIONS AS INTENTIONAL • NB NOT the same as ‘doing something intentionally’ • ‘Intentional’ here means that a mental state is about something • It has a content that is directed to some state of affairs which it is an attitude about • E.g. hoping, desiring, fearing, disdaining – these attitudes represent the thing towards which they are directed in a certain light • They can be thought of as making claims about the world, claims that could be true or false • Whereas mere sensation or feeling does not have a content that is about anything • It is simply feeling EMOTIONS AS INTENTIONAL • Emotions thus are not simply automatic, instinctive reactions, according to Jaggar • Rather they are intelligent evaluations or appraisals of a situation that can be shaped by culture and by thought • Different emotions evaluate a situation in different ways • E.g. hoping for something represents it as a future good; fearing something represents it as a danger; being ashamed of something represents it as a (public) threat to my self-worth • Which emotion represents the right evaluation? • Which is fitting? EMOTIONS AS SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS • Jaggar thinks that if the Dumb View were correct, emotions would be part of our biology • However, she argues that emotions vary significantly across cultures • What emotions a person feels depends on their culturally influenced beliefs • This shows, she thinks, that emotions interact with beliefs, and hence are not wholly separate from beliefs EMOTION AS ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT • However, emotions are not simply dispassionate evaluations • They are evaluations that also involve feeling • Furthermore, they tend to involve some tendency or motivation to particular kinds of action • E.g. fear = fight or flight • Pride = puffed up • Shame = covering up/avoidance • Humility = deference THE HISTORY OF EMOTION • Why has the Dumb View been taken seriously if, as Jaggar thinks, it is ‘quite untenable’? • She provides a feminist/critical-theoretical answer: • ‘Feminist theorists have pointed out that the Western tradition has not seen everyone as equally emotional. Instead, reason has been associated with members of dominant political, social, and cultural groups and emotion with members of subordinate groups. Prominent among those subordinate groups in our society are people of color … and women.’ (Jaggar, pp. 163-4) THE HISTORY OF EMOTION • ‘It functions, obviously, to bolster the epistemic authority of the currently dominant groups, composed largely of white men, and to discredit the observations and claims of the currently subordinate groups including, of course, the observations and claims of many people of color and women. The more forcefully and vehemently the latter groups express their observations and claims, the more emotional they appear and so the more easily they are discredited. The alleged epistemic authority of the dominant groups then justifies their political authority.’ (Jaggar, pp. 164-5) WHAT IS ANGER? • With this view of emotions as cognitive states, we can now return to anger • Srinivasan’s idea is that anger is an evaluation that can be and often is accurate to the situation • If she is right, and anger is an evaluation, how does it represent the situation? WHAT IS ANGER? • According to Srinivasan, the ‘object’ of anger is a ‘genuine normative violation’ • That is, anger is directed at something which it portrays as being a violation • It doesn’t make sense to be angry about something unless it is such a violation • ‘Consider the difference between anger and another negative emotion: disappointment. What makes anger intelligible as anger, and distinct from mere disappointment, is that anger presents its object as involving a moral violation: not just a violation of how one wishes things were, but a violation of how things ought to be.’ (p. 128) WHAT IS ANGER? • Anger, like other emotions, motivates us to act on the basis of our evaluation • However, Srinivasan wants to argue against the view, held by Martha Nussbaum, that anger motivates us to revenge or causing suffering to the cause of our anger • For Srinivasan, what is more important in anger is the desire that the person who is the cause of our anger should come to recognize the justifiability of our anger • It is recognition rather than revenge that matters (pp. 129-130) PUTTING TOGETHER THE ARGUMENT • Srinivasan thinks that anger is an evaluation • It portrays some event as a moral violation • It is fitting (there is ‘intrinsic reason’ for it) when the evaluation is accurate • When there is ‘intrinsic reason’ for an emotion there is a ‘reason of aptness’ • ‘getting angry is a means of affectively registering or appreciating the injustice of the world … our capacity to get aptly angry is best compared with our capacity for aesthetic appreciation.’ (p. 132) PUTTING TOGETHER THE ARGUMENT • We can now see how there can be a conflict between prudential reasons to have or not have an emotion (or display it) and reasons of aptness • Prudential reasons are reasons to do with one’s own welfare or happiness • Sometimes it can be the case that an evaluation would be correct (= the relevant emotion would be fitting) but it would put one at risk to allow oneself to have or display that emotion PUTTING TOGETHER THE ARGUMENT • Srinivasan argues that prudential reasons do not always outweigh reasons of aptness • After all, to repress the emotion is in some way to deny that the evaluation is accurate • Sometimes it is more important to be true to the way the situation is? • And even when one has to bite one’s tongue that is a compromise or sacrifice which may not leave one feeling good about oneself PUTTING TOGETHER THE ARGUMENT • Cases of conflict between prudential reasons and reasons of aptness (= being true to our evaluation of the situation) are what Srinivasan calls ‘substantive normative conflict’ • We are pulled in opposing directions by weighty reasons and cannot satisfy both • The result is frustration, regret, self-blame • Srinivasan thinks that this is a further injustice imposed on the oppressed – ‘affective injustice’ OBJECTIONS TO SRINIVASAN • When you are thinking about whether we should agree with Srinivasan, an obvious place to start is with her view of emotions as cognitive states • Is the claim that emotions are cognitive true of all emotions? Or only some? And where does anger stand? • E.g. feelings of guilt might be cognitive … Purchase answer to see full attachment Get a 10 % discount on an order above $ 100 Use the following coupon code : NURSING10

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