Sunday, September 10, 2017


The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt.

— H. L. Menken

I'm keen about Alan's Blog, not only because its creator Alan Weiss serves up highly original business tips, but because he routinely skewers the arrogant, the hypocritical, the timid, and the incompetent.

No one—from the lowly cashier to the mighty CEO—is spared his delicious scorn.

Indeed, the blog might be better named Alan's Barbs.

I just introduced my wife to Alan's Blog and she hates it.

That's because she's the kind of person the philosopher Aristotle calls "good-tempered."

Anger for Aristotle occupies a spectrum.

Angry people—occupying one side of the spectrum—Aristotle calls "irascible." Irascible people "get angry quickly and with the wrong persons and at the wrong things, and more than is right. They do not restrain their anger, but retaliate openly, owing to their quickness of temper."

Too-cool people—occupying the opposite side of the spectrum—he calls "fools." Fools never give way to anger, and are "thought not to feel things nor to be pained by them." Fools never defend themselves, and "endure being insulted and put up with insult."

Tolerant people—occupying the mid-point of the spectrum—Aristotle calls "good-tempered." "Good temper is a mean with respect to anger," he says. "The person who is angry at the right things and with the right people, and, further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought, is praised. This will be the good-tempered person."

Aristotle's analysis of anger leaves me worried that, like Alan, I'm on the "angry" side of the spectrum.

But, thankfully, the philosopher comes to my rescue.

I'm merely, like Alan, "hot-tempered."

"Hot-tempered people get angry quickly," Aristotle says. "But their anger ceases quickly—which is the best point about them. This happens to them because they do not restrain their anger, but retaliate openly owing to their quickness of temper, and then their anger ceases."

That sure beats being "irascible"—or, just as bad, being the kind of person Aristotle calls "sulky."

"Sulky people are hard to appease, and retain their anger long; for they repress their passion. But it ceases when they retaliate; for revenge relieves them of their anger, producing in them pleasure, instead of pain."

When sulky people can't avenge themselves, Aristotle says, watch out!

Unavenged, sulky people "retain their burden; for, owing to its not being obvious, no one reasons with them, and to digest one's anger in oneself takes time. Such people are most troublesome to themselves and their dearest friends."
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