Tag Archives: shame

On the problem of Envy

Our instinctive ability to engage in the emotions is one important part of the human condition. An emotion is affective state experienced a few minutes by a subject. And works as a signal of the body’s surrounding events. The subject’s actions follow how it understands emotions. With the scientific method, we need to deepen our emotional understanding, with spiritual needs in mind, that we can then apply in practices and rituals.

Bodily map of simple (Upper) and complex emotions (Lower) associated with words.

Bodily map of simple (Upper) and complex emotions (Lower) associated with words.

The difference between the subject’s experience and the body’s expression of some emotions makes its emotional complexity clear. Darwinian reasoning says, shaping of emotions by evolution need a bodily expression. Therefore, simple emotions are distinct in both emotional experience and expression. Fear has both characteristics for example. Complex emotions are radically different, lacking both a distinct experience and expression. Envy has the characteristics of complex emotion.

In short, nowhere does it appear more clearly that man’s desire finds it’s meaning in the desire of the other, not so much because the other holds the key to the object desired, as because the first object of desire is to be recognized by the other. – Jacques Lacan

Envy and desire preconditions the capacity to imagine the mental experience of others. There are two known passive attitudes to the other, self-defeating envy and admiration. Self-defeating envy says: “I want what you want because and as long as you want it.” The attitudes logical conclusion is crushing the other. Which results in the object losing its sensed value. And attitude of admiration says both “I let the other enjoy for me”, and “I only desire what you desire, I only want to fulfill your desire”. What’s the active attitude of envy and desire? We find it in the attitude of self-assertive envy that says: “I desire what you desire, I want to fulfill my desire.”

Envy expands in a nonhierarchical society. An obvious effect because the emotion is dependent on empathy. Because the higher possibilities for empathy in a nonhierarchical society. Contrary to the common view of envy as the result of a hierarchical society. How does this make sense from an evolutionary perspective? Since proper hierarchical societies only emerged about 6000 years ago – while humans appeared about 200,000 years ago – if hierarchical societies are what form the basis for envy. There couldn’t be any evolutionary basis for envy.

The common view is that envy is bad. Christianity has hammered this down excessively for two millennia, by declaring envy as a deadly sin. One of the ten commandments directly state that: “You shall not desire anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Deuteronomy 5:21). A totalitarian threat of disconnection towards the sinners breaking this command. No wonder then that envy connected tightly with shame, or more precisely fear of disconnection. Fear of disconnection imposes avoiding behaviour and alienation from others. The fear or disconnection makes it tempting to cover expressing the emotion. This avoiding action, however, does nothing else, then straighten the anxiety. To overcome this calls for radical vulnerability.

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.” – Brené Brown

The self-defeating way the Atheist behave to the religious makes it obvious how, in fact, the Atheist suffers from severe religion envy. The Atheists self-defeating way in finding joy in to humiliate the religious person typifies this point. The destructive temptation remains, as long as this attitude towards religion is upheld. Belief in the end boils down to how you choose to act. What distinguishes genuine belief becomes clear ones reaction of others acting differently, if it’s disturbed and envious or not. Why would you desire differently than your belief, if your belief is genuine? Syntheism to me is an imaginative approach to the Atheist’s problem of belief – recognizing through envy the deep desire of humanity to be religious. However, in recognizing this need assertively co-create genuine beliefs for our time in history.