While ancient civilizations worshipped strong, active emotions, modern societies have favored more peaceful attitudes, especially within the democratic process. We have largely forgotten the struggle to make use of thymos, the part of the soul that, following Plato, contains spirit, pride, and indignation. Rather, Christianity and psychoanalysis have promoted mutual understanding to overcome conflict. Through unique examples, Peter Sloterdijk, the preeminent posthumanist, argues exactly the opposite, showing how the history of Western civilization can be read as a suppression and return of rage.
By way of reinterpreting the Iliad, Alexandre Dumas's Count of Monte Cristo, and recent Islamic political riots in Paris, Sloterdijk proves the fallacy that rage is an emotion capable of control. Global terrorism and economic frustrations have rendered strong emotions visibly resurgent, and the consequences of violent outbursts will determine international relations for decades to come. To better respond to rage and its complexity, Sloterdijk daringly breaks with entrenched dogma and contructs a new theory for confronting conflict. His approach acknowledges and respects the proper place of rage and channels it into productive political struggle.
Peter Sloterdijk is professor of philosophy and president of the State Academy of Design at the University of Karlsruhe. His numerous works include the best-selling philosophical Critique of Cynical Reason and the Spheres trilogy.
Mario Wenning is assistant professor at the University of Macau. He publishes in the areas of critical theory and German idealism.