Afgunst, jaloezie en begeerte | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
2004
Volume 115 Number 4
  • ISSN: 0002-5275
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1244

Abstract

Abstract

Envy, jealousy, and covetousness are three similar phenomena that people commonly refer to by using one word: ‘jealousy’. Can they be distinguished, and if so, how? More specifically, in which way(s) is envy different from jealousy proper and covetousness? In this article I argue that these three phenomena are intimately related because they all exhibit a ‘triangular’ structure: each involves an I, an object that is valued, and another person. The differences between envy and jealousy proper, and between envy and covetousness, can be illustrated by looking at these triangular structures. I will argue that a key difference between envy and jealousy proper is that in envy I desire the valued object that is currently possessed by the other person, whereas in jealousy proper I myself (believe to) possess the valued object and want to protect it from being taken from me by the other person. A key difference between envy and covetousness concerns the role and meaning of the other person: in envy I perceive the other person as someone who makes me feel inferior because (s)he possesses the valued object, whereas in covetousness the other person is virtually absent in my experience – I perceive him or her as being merely the ‘accidental’ possessor of the valued object.

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