Envy: Varieties, Evils, and Paradoxes


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The dissertation explores fundamental philosophical questions about envy. It first provides an historical backdrop, analyzing the accounts of envy and rivalrous emotions in early modern thought. It argues that these accounts differ from ancient ones in virtue of their focus on, as Kant wrote, man’s “social unsociability.” Second, it develops a new psychological account of envy that posits four kinds of invidious emotions: emulative envy, inert envy, aggressive envy, and spiteful envy. Third, it applies this psychological account to present a new analysis of envy’s moral badness, its potential remedies, and even its morally valuable aspects. Finally, it contends that envy is, paradoxically, the dark side of love; the same conditions that foster love also make us envious.