Envy and Its Discontents

In Kevin Timpe & Craig Boyd (eds.), Virtues and Their Vices. Oxford University Press. pp. 225-244 (2014)
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Envy is, roughly, the disposition to desire that another lose a perceived good so that one can, by comparison, feel better about one’s self. The divisiveness of envy follows not just from one’s willing against the good of the other, but also from the other vices that spring from it. It is for this second reason that envy is a capital vice. This chapter begins by arguing for a definition of envy similar to that given by Aquinas and then considers its relationship to other vices (e.g. jealousy, schadenfreude, and hate). At the heart of envy is a disposition to make relative comparisons which lead to a sense of inferiority. This is turn can lead a person to feel and act in ways destructive of community and the self. The present chapter also addresses recent work in both psychology and economics related to envy
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