Volume 81, Issue 3, Summer 2007
The Moral Status of Anger
Thomas Aquinas and John Cassian
Is anger at another person ever a morally excellent thing? Two competing answers to this question can be found in the Christian intellectual tradition. John
Cassian held that anger at another person is never morally virtuous. Aquinas, taking an Aristotelian line, maintained that anger at another person is sometimes morally virtuous. In this paper I explore the positions of Cassian and Aquinas on this issue. The core of my paper consists in a close examination of two arguments given by Aquinas in support of his view. The first involves the usefulness of anger in the moral life; the second focuses on the nature of the human being as a composite of soul and body.