Psychologists define envy as an aversive reaction to a perceived inferiority, which we feel toward those who are similar to us, with respect to a good or goal pertaining to a domain that is relevant to our sense of identity. This definition, however, applies to at least two different emotions, with opposite moral valences: malicious envy and benign envy. Scholars have provided different accounts of the distinction. Psychologists believe the crucial factor is whether the envier feels capable to overcome her disadvantage. Philosophers suggest that what differs is the subject’s focus of attention, that is, on whether one is focused on lacking the good or on the fact that someone else, the envied, has it. In my paper I show that both variables are at play, and that they do not co-vary but are independent. Consequently, we can experience not just two but four kinds of envy, with varying degree of maliciousness: emulative envy, inert envy, aggressive envy, and spiteful envy. Developing a more precise and adequate knowledge of envy’s anatomy allows the moralist to come up with the right diagnosis and remedies for what has been considered the worst of the deadly sins.
Philosophy Seminar Series.
Date: Thursday, 28 Nov 2013
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 #05-23)
Speaker: Sara Protasi, Yale University
Moderator: Dr. Ben Blumson
About the Speaker:
Sara Protasi is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Yale University. She is working on the philosophical psychology, moral dimensions, and ancient and modern accounts of envy. Her previous work is on the normative dimensions of romantic love. She is also interested in feminist philosophy, bioethics, and philosophy of dance.