Thumos in Aristotle’s Politics
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Recent interest and scholarship in the role of emotions in politics provide an opportunity for revisiting the idea of ancient Greek thumos as understood by Aristotle. In Aristotle’s Politics, thumos is a capacity of the soul for affection; it is most clearly seen in anger and righteous indignation; and it is indispensable for understanding the nature of politics. Aristotle shows that thumos motivates political actions that can be beneficial as well as destructive to the city. This ambivalence has an enormous impact on what is possible or desirable in political life and raises important questions about the extent to which thumos should be cultivated in society and in individuals.