Vol. 21 (2023)

Aristotle on anger and moral outrage as causes of civil war (stasis)

Manuel Knoll
Universität München (LMU)

Published 2024-01-31


  • political justice,
  • disagreement,
  • factional conflict,
  • indignation,
  • political psychology


This article focuses on Aristotle’s analysis of disagreements on political justice and on how emotional reactions such as ‘indignation’ (nemesan) and ‘anger’ (orge) could trigger ‘factional conflict’ or ‘civil war’ (stasis). It argues that Aristotle’s studies on the function of moral outrage and anger in Book 2 of the Rhetoric allow for a better understanding of his theory of stasis in Book 5 of the Politics. Groups of citizens who are excluded from political power or who believe that they do not get their fair share become morally outraged and angry and thus motived to engage in stasis. This article claims that according to Aristotle the perception of political injustice is the general cause of factional conflict and that he is the founder of a political psychology of motivation.