Is any judgment that inflames our anger acceptable in Stoicism?

Most people understand that you don’t want to be angry most of the time.  Aristotle agrees but he thinks we should sometimes show show anger as long as it’s the right amount of anger at the right time at the right person in the right situation for the right reason.  The Stoics disagree.  But why?

The reason is largely that anger usually relies on the judgment that externals are bad, which is a misjudgment since externals are neither good nor bad.  But here’s a tough question:  what about people?  Aren’t people either good or bad according to Stoicism?  Well, we need to have the proper judgments about people as well.  But wouldn’t judging someone as a bad person make us mad?  No, because we know that someone who is bad is just ignorant and misguided.  If the bad person knew that the virtuous life led to eudaimonia and had that wisdom to guide them, they would no longer be bad because being bad never pays.  If being bad never pays, then obviously people only do bad things out of ignorance.

What about people who suffer from injustices?  Well, that’s a situation that is bad but even then it doesn’t call for anger but for action.  Yes, it’s understandable that people get angry at injustice but the Stoic knows that even anger as a proto-passion needn’t turn into an anger passion.  The Stoic knows that anger is a temporary form of madness and that it interferes with objective thought processes.  So the Stoic may feel anger at first but will let it pass.  Continuing to be angry after the initial anger at injustice is no longer necessary as it’s time to develop an action plan to help put an end to injustice.

So in conclusion I’d like to say most situations that piss people off aren’t even bad.  They’re just dispreferred indifferents.  And the situations (like an injustice) that do piss people off because they’re bad aren’t even reasons enough to stay mad but to act and plan and to act and plan.  So just remember if you start letting yourself get angry after an initial injury, just quickly let the anger blow over and carry on.  Don’t feed the anger, just let it pass.

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