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Philodemus and the Peripatetics on the Role of Anger in the Virtuous Life

David Kaufman

Transylvania University

Among the most popular topics of interschool debate in Hellenistic and Imperial philosophy was the question of what role, if any, ordinary emotions such as love, anger, and the like play in a virtuous and fulfilling life. The two most famous interlocutors in this debate were the Stoics and Peripatetics, who held opposing views on the value of emotions. While the Stoics denied that ordinary emotions contribute at all to such a life, and instead maintained an ideal of complete ‘freedom from emotions’ or apatheia, the Peripatetics held that such emotions, at least if they are suitably moderate and concordant with the agent’s practical reasoning, play an important role in virtuous action; accordingly, they proposed the ideal of ‘moderate emotions’ or metriopatheia. Although scholarship on the apatheia/metripatheia debate has centered mostly on the Stoic and Peripatetic views, in this talk I wish to discuss the conception of ‘natural anger’ (φυσικὴ ὀργή) that Philodemus proposes in his treatise On Anger, which, I argue, presents a sophisticated alternative both to Stoic apatheia and to Peripatetic metriopatheia.

Session/Panel Title:

Meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy

Session/Paper Number

11.4

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