Invideo et Amo: on Envying the Beloved

Philosophia 45 (4):1765-1784 (2017)
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Can we love and envy the same person at the same time? There is an overwhelming, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary, consensus that love and envy are deeply incompatible. In this paper, I challenge this consensus, and focus in particular on the normative thesis that true love should be void of envy proper. I first propose an indirect argument. Because love and envy thrive in the same psychological conditions, it is not unlikely to feel envy toward the beloved. If we want ideals that do not go against our psychological propensities, then we should not aim for a love that is wholly void of envy. I then propose a direct argument, in defense of two positive ideals. I argue that a certain kind of envy—emulative envy—can be beneficial to the loving relationship; in turn, a certain kind of love—wise love— which accepts the presence of envy, can be beneficial to our lives. Thus, that love and envy are so linked in our psychology is not something that we should merely tolerate, but wholeheartedly embrace.
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Archival date: 2017-06-23
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