What Does Nemesis Have to Do with the Legal System? Discussing Aristotle’s Neglected Emotion and Its Relevance for Law and Politics

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Abstract

Abstract Aristotle defines nemesis (to nemesan ¼ from the verb nemesao) as theemotional reaction of someone with a noble character at unmerited good fortune.That another’s good fortune is a central element of nemesis can also be inferred bythe contraposition Aristotle proposed between nemesis and pity, which is pain atundeserved bad fortune. The modern concept of indignation, commonly used as atranslation for the word nemesis, refers to outrage at a general form of injustice, andusually a serious one.The authors intend to remain faithful to the original meaning of the term and toexplore the impact it can have with respect to law. In contrast to the existingliterature, which especially during the 1960s, discredited the narrow conceptionof indignation as defined in Aristotelian terms and interpreted indignation in termsof negative emotions such as envy or resentment, they argue that this emotion has acentral position in legal reasoning and legal thought. Nemesis is that emotion whichcreates a strong conceptual bond between rectificatory justice (to diorthotikondikaion), which today we may define as typical of legal reasoning, and distributivejustice (to dianemetikon dikaion), typical of the moral and political realm. Theconcept of individual desert is presented as the juncture between the moral, thelegal and the political fields.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAristotle on Emotions in Law and Politics
Pages237-259
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameLAW AND PHILOSOPHY LIBRARY

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