1. Emotion

1.1 Psychology

From a psychological point of view, emotion is a syndrome, a temporary synthesis of different states:

— A psychic state of consciousness.
— A neurophysiological state, perceptible or not to the subject, such as goose bumps associated with emotions such as fear or pleasure; or the adrenaline rush accompanying rage.
— An altered self-presentation: transformation of facial expression; of body posture; specific attitudes and emergence of actions, such as the flight reaction, characteristic of fear.
— A cognitive state, including a structured representation of reality.

The direction of causality between these components is discussed: common sense considers that the psychic state determines the neurophysiological and attitudinal changes, “he cries because he is sad”, but it can be shown that, if one puts a subject in the physical state corresponding to a particular emotion, he or she experiences this emotion, so, literally “he is sad because he cries” (James, 1884).

1.2 Basic emotions

The emotions listed by Aristotle in the Rhetoric and taken up by the Latin rhetoricians can be considered as the very first set of basic social emotions in the Western world S. Pathos.

Modern philosophers propose their own lists of emotions; for example, Descartes holds that there are only six “simple and primitive” passions, “wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy, and sadness. […] all the others are composed of some of these six or are species of them” ([1649], §69).

Psychologists define basic emotions as universal, independent of languages ​​and cultures. The lists are variable and more or less developed; they generally include fear, anger, disgust, sadness, joy, surprise. Ekman (1999) counts fifteen basic emotions: amusement, anger, contempt, satisfaction, disgust, embarrassment, excitement, fear, guilt, pride in success, relief, sadness – distress, satisfaction, sensory pleasure, and shame.

In theology, the capital sinspride, envy, anger, sadness (acedia: sloth, depression), avarice, gluttony, lust, can be seen as emotional leakages, considered as sins insofar as they are left uncontrolled.

1.2 Emotions and mood: phasic and thymic

Moods are defined as stable or thymic affective states, whereas emotions are phasic, that is developing in an event structure, according to a bell-shaped curve pattern, S. Calm.

1.3 Emotion and situation

An emotion is related to a situation. Causal theories of emotion analyze the situation as a stimulus mechanically inducing a response, which is the corresponding emotion. This view does not, however, explain the possibility of emotional injunctions and disagreements about emotion (see below). In fact, emotion is linked not to a kind of objective situation, but to a subjective perception of the situation; the stimulus is a situation under a certain description. In other words, the situation perceived as emotional is part of the emotion.

A distinction can be made between experienced emotion and spoken emotion. The relation between these two modes of emotion is analogous to that between time as an extra-linguistic reality, and tense, the shape language gives to time. Rhetorical-argumentative emotions concern emotion-tense, whereas psychology is interested in emotion-time.

2. Arguing emotions

Serious argumentative situations are intrinsically emotional. Contradiction, conflictive or not, disrupts routine beliefs and action plans. So, for example, having to decide what to do introduces tension on the social, cognitive, and emotional levels. The arguer must confront an uncomfortable situation; relations with the other, as well as social statuses are potentially threatened; representations of the world are destabilized, as are the personal identities based on these representations.

2.1 Emotions as issues in argumentative discourse

The situation related to emotion is not a causal source of emotion; when it rains there is no argument as to whether or not one will get wet. This negotiability of emotions is evidenced by the existence of emotional injunctions, such as,

Time for Outrage!”(Stéphane Hessel)
A Call to Outrage” (Ignacio Ramonet)
Indignant? We should be” (Simon Kuper).[1]

In one given situation, there can be huge discrepancies between the emotional states of different people:

S1 — Let us cry, the father of the Nation is dead!
S2 — Let’s rejoice, the tyrant is dead!

S1 -— I’m not afraid!
S2 — You should be.

In the second example, by refusing to align with S1, S2 opens a debate, and must explain why he or she does not agree. S2 must reveal his or her reasons for being afraid, and argue his or her emotion. Reciprocally, S1 is now at risk of being refuted by S2, and left with an inadequate emotion. An emotion is a point of view.

As for argumentation in general, we can distinguish cases where emotion is explicitly argued, and those where the argument is left implicit, and where we are dealing with an orientation towards a particular, unnamed, emotion. In both cases, the point of departure of the emotion is in the participants’ perception of the situation. Ultimately, formatted situation and experienced emotion form a compact whole. Therefore, in order to justify an emotion, one has to give a detailed account of the situation including objective specifications about what happenned and subjective emotional appraisal of the latter. This formatting obeys a relatively simple system of “emotional parameters”, which determine the nature and intensity of the emotion, depending on the more or less predictable and pleasant character of the situation, its origin, its distance, control, norms and values ​​of the experiencer, etc. (Scherer [1984a], p. 107; 1984b).

Aristotle’s Rhetoric presents an excellent description of the thematic structure of speech constructing specific emotions, that is, of the topics of emotion. The book is not about the psychology of emotion but rather a treatise on what discourse can do with emotions and how an emotional social thrust can be monitored, constructed or refuted. The question is not what anger or calm are, but how discourses which are likely to prompt or to calm anger are constructed. That is why, from an argumentative perspective, action predicates should be preferred to substantives where we refer to emotions:

— To anger vs. to cool down the anger;
— To inspire friendship vs. to break the bonds of friendship fueling anger and hatred;
— To frighten vs. to buoy up;
— To shame vs. to despise other’s opinion;
— To be grateful vs. to feel no obligation;
— To pity vs. to be indifferent;
— To kindle rivalry, jealousy, envy vs. to instigate a spirit of competition.

Emotions belong in the field of discursive action. In the Rhetoric, they are defined on the basis of typical scenarios, activated and developed by the speaker. This description of discursive strategies which generate emotion is one of the major achievements of rhetorical argumentative theory.

Anti-oriented discourses construct anti-oriented emotions. Speech alters representations, thus arousing or appeasing, counterbalancing emotions, just as any viewpoint can be fought, turned back, or circumvented. The examples of pity and anger can give an idea of these basic argumentative techniques.

2.2 Pitying and pitiless

Moving to pity — A pities B if he considers that B is the victim of an evil that is not deserved; and if A is well aware that one day he or she may suffer from the same evil (id., 1385b10-15, RR, p. 291). For A to pity B, the distance between A and B must have been calibrated correctly; one feels pity towards people who are similar and close to us. Generally speaking, the “distance” dimension plays an essential role in the construction of emotion, not as an objective metric, but as a cultural, language-built notion. It follows from this description that pity should not be considered an automatic feeling. In particular, those who have nothing to fear for themselves would be insensitive to pity. According to the theory of the moral characters (mores) of the audience, the locally relevant construction of an emotion depends on a good analysis of the audience, S. Ethos. It follows that to directly induce pity, B must show that he or she is suffering, and that he or she does not deserve to be, that the same thing could happen to you, his or her interlocutor, etc., and then, of course, amplify these substantial common places. If pity is constructed according to such parameters, it is justified and judged to be decent and reasonable.

Refuting misplaced pity — Walton has shown along which lines the target can resist pity, in other words, he has shown how to build a discourse against pity, which allows the target to remain calm, insensitive, not to yield to a movement of pity. This discourse is constructed first along a specific “information line”, about the situation. It is then subjected to a relevance condition, pity can only be appealed to if the domain admits of personal involvement. For example, scientific discourse, excluding ordinary subjectivity, does not allow appeals to pity, which will then be deemed “irrelevant” (Walton 1992, p. 27)

When relevant, the appeal to pity routinely functions in the general conflict of pro and contra arguments, concerning personal involvement. In the case of dismissed workers, for example, the appeal to pity (ad misericordiam) confronts the need to preserve the interests of shareholders (ad pecuniam vs. ad misericordiam), to place the company in a good position in the market (ad rivalitatem vs. ad misericordiam), or to preserve the jobs of other employees of the company (ad misericordiam vs. ad misericordiam).

2.3 Anger: getting angry and calming down

Argumentation theory has glorified appeal to pity with a Latin name, ad misericordiam. Actually, from an argumentative point of view, there is no reason to set pity apart from other emotions. All should be given the same lexical consideration, particularly the appeal to anger, ad iram, a highly argued and argumentative emotion.

Causing anger — Anger is a basic rhetorical emotion. When willing to cause the public anger, the speaker will develop his or her righteous indignation or holy anger, and will adopt a virtuous ethos. From the same virtuous posture, the opponent will denounce rage, fury and hatred, S. Pathos.

Discursive representations play an essential role in these oppositions. To make A angry with B, the speaker has to show to his or her interlocutor A that:

— B baffles, offends, mocks A; B makes an obstacle to A‘s plans, wishes, and takes pleasure in it.
— A suffers and seeks revenge by harming B.
A fantasizes a vengeance, and enjoys it.

These are the basic lines of inflammatory speeches. It should be noted that anger is not an atomic emotion, a crude response to the bite of a stimulus, but the complex result of an aggregate of emotions such as humiliation, contempt and even pleasure. The rationality or morality of anger depends on the proper construction of this feeling of injustice. Anger can be fully virtuous, rational and emotional, if these distinctions have any meaning here.

Anger triggers the mechanisms of revenge. In a typical serial episode, anger constructed and justified in the first sequence, is turned, into an argument for subsequent action.

Anger is not hatred; anger can be rationally justified, hatred cannot; there is no acceptable reason for hate. From a religious point of view, hate speech is a sin “love, at least patiently bear one another!”. The status of hate speech serves as an example of how social evaluation is achieved. Any citizen can legitimately comment on and take stock of anger speech, outrage speech and hate speech. Politicians and judges have the authority to make judgments about such issues. They may of course also draw on the assistance of other parties that they consider helpful, anthropologists, moralists, and, of course, linguists and logicians.

From anger back to serenity — In order to calm down an enraged A, B‘s advocate will develop a soothing discourse concluding that A‘s expression of anger is poorly worded and badly constructed, and that this anger is unreasonable. He or she will argue that B’s behavior was not contemptuous, mocking, abusive, or outrageous. It rather the case that B has been misunderstood; he or she was joking; the intention was not hostile; B behaves like this with people that he or she loves; B repents, and offers excuses, compensations; B has already been punished, etc. — and the soothing discourse will conclude that all that happened a long time ago, and that the situation has changed, S. Kettle

[1] — Stéphane Hessel (2011). Time for Outrage! London: Charles Glass Books.
— Ignacio Ramonet (2011). Quoted after http://www.ipsnews.net/2011/02/a-call-to-outrage/(11-08-2017)
— Simon Kuper (2011). Quoted after https://www.ft.com/content/280c9816-192c-11e0-9311-00144feab49a?mhq5j=e1 (11-08-2017)