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In philosophy and psychology, ressentiment (pronounced /rəsɑ̃tiˈmɑ̃/)
is a particular form of resentment or hostility. Ressentiment is the
French word for "resentment" (fr. Latin intensive prefix 're', and
'sentire' "to feel").

Ressentiment is a sense of hostility directed at that which one
identifies as the cause of one's frustration, that is, an assignment
of blame for one's frustration. The sense of weakness or inferiority
and perhaps jealousy in the face of the "cause" generates a
rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or
denies the perceived source of one's frustration. The ego creates an
enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability.

A term imported by many languages for its philosophical and
psychological connotations, ressentiment is not to be considered
interchangeable with the normal English word "resentment", or even the
French "ressentiment". While the normal words both speak to a feeling
of frustration directed at a perceived source, neither speaks to the
special relationship between a sense of inferiority and the creation
of morality. Thus, the term 'Ressentiment' as used here always
maintains a distinction.

    * 1 History
    * 2 Perspectives
          o 2.1 Kierkegaard and Nietzsche
          o 2.2 Scheler
          o 2.3 Weber
          o 2.4 Sartre
    * 3 References
    * 4 See also

[edit] History

Ressentiment was first introduced as a philosophical/psychological
term by the 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard[1][2][3].
Friedrich Nietzsche later independently expanded the concept; Walter
Kaufmann ascribes Nietzsche's use of the term in part to the absence
of a proper equivalent term in the German language, contending that
said absence alone "would be sufficient excuse for Nietzsche," if not
for a translator.[4] The term came to form a key part of his ideas
concerning the psychology of the 'master-slave' question (articulated
in Beyond Good and Evil), and the resultant birth of morality.
Nietzsche's first use and chief development of Ressentiment came in
his book On The Genealogy of Morals; see esp §§ 10–11).[1] [2].

The term was also put to good use by Max Scheler in his book
Ressentiment, published in 1912, and later suppressed by the Nazis.

Currently of great import as a term widely used in Psychology and
Existentialism, Ressentiment is viewed as an effective force for the
creation of identities, moral frameworks and value systems.
[edit] Perspectives
[edit] Kierkegaard and Nietzsche

    The ressentiment which is establishing itself is the process of
levelling, and while a passionate age storms ahead setting up new
things and tearing down old, razing and demolishing as it goes, a
reflective and passionless age does exactly the contrary: it hinders
and stifles all action; it levels. Levelling is a silent,
mathematical, and abstract occupation which shuns upheavals. ... If
the jewel which every one desired to possess lay far out on a frozen
lake where the ice was very thin, watched over by the danger of death,
while, closer in, the ice was perfectly safe, then in a passionate age
the crowds would applaud the courage of the man who ventured out, they
would tremble for him and with him in the danger of his decisive
action, they would grieve over him if he were drowned, they would make
a god of him if he secured the prize. But in an age without passion,
in a reflective age, it would be otherwise. People would think each
other clever in agreeing that it was unreasonable and not even worth
while to venture so far out. And in this way they would transform
daring and enthusiasm into a feat of skill, so as 'to do something,
for something must be done.'
    Søren Kierkegaard, Two Ages: A Literary Review

    (T)he problem with the other origin of the “good,” of the good
man, as the person of ressentiment has thought it out for himself,
demands some conclusion. It is not surprising that the lambs should
bear a grudge against the great birds of prey, but that is no reason
for blaming the great birds of prey for taking the little lambs. And
when the lambs say among themselves, "These birds of prey are evil,
and he who least resembles a bird of prey, who is rather its opposite,
a lamb,—should he not be good?" then there is nothing to carp with in
this ideal's establishment, though the birds of prey may regard it a
little mockingly, and maybe say to themselves, "We bear no grudge
against them, these good lambs, we even love them: nothing is tastier
than a tender lamb."
    Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality

Ressentiment is a reassignment of the pain that accompanies a sense of
one's own inferiority/failure onto an external scapegoat. The ego
creates the illusion of an enemy, a cause that can be "blamed" for
one's own inferiority/failure. Thus, one was thwarted not by a failure
in oneself, but rather by an external "evil."

According to Kierkegaard, ressentiment occurs in a "reflective,
passionless age", in which the populace stifles creativity and passion
in passionate individuals. Kierkegaard argues that individuals who do
not conform to the masses are made scapegoats and objects of ridicule
by the masses, in order to maintain status quo and to instill into the
masses their own sense of superiority.

Ressentiment comes from reactiveness: the weaker a man is, the less
his capability for adiaphoria, i.e. to suppress reaction. According to
Nietzsche, the more a man is active, strong-willed, and dynamic, the
less place and time is left for contemplating all that is done to him,
and his reactions (like imagining he is actually better) become less
compulsive. The reaction of a strong-willed man (a "wild beast"), when
it happens, is ideally a short action: it is not a prolonged filling
of his intellect.
[edit] Scheler

Max Scheler attempted to reconcile Nietzsche's ideas of master-slave
morality and ressentiment with the Christian ideals of love and
humility. Nietzsche saw Christian morality as a kind of slave
morality, while Greek and Roman culture was characterized as a master
morality. Scheler disagrees. He begins with a comparison of Greek love
and Christian love. Greek love is described as a movement from lower
value to higher value. The weaker love the stronger, the less perfect
love the more perfect. The perfect do not love the imperfect because
that would diminish their value or corrupt their existence. Greek love
is rooted in need and want. This is clearly indicated by the
Aristotelian concept of God as the "Unmoved Mover". The unmoved mover
is self-sufficient being completely immersed in its own existence. The
highest object of contemplation, and who moves others through the
force of attraction because efficient causality would degrade its
nature. In Christian love, there is a reversal in the movement of
love. The strong bend to the weak, the healthy help the sick, the
noble help the vulgar. This movement is a consequence of the Christian
understanding of the nature of God as fullness of being. God's love is
an expression of His superabundance. The motive for love is not
charity nor the neediness of the lover, but it is rooted in a deeply
felt confidence that through loving I become more personalized and
most real to myself. The motive for the world is not need or lack (à
la Schopenhauer), but a creative urge to express the infinite fullness
of being. Poverty and sickness are not values to be celebrated in
order to spite those who are rich and healthy, but they simply provide
the opportunity for a person to express their love. Rich people are
harder to love because they are less in need of your generosity. Fear
of death is a sign of a declining, sick, and broken life (Ressent 60).
St. Francis' love and care for the lepers would have mortified the
Greek mind, but for St. Francis, the threats to well-being are
inconsequential because at the core of his being there is the
awareness that his existence is firmly rooted in and sustained by the
ground of ultimate being. In genuine, Christian love, the lower values
that are relative to life are renounced not because they are bad, but
simply because they are obstacles to those absolute values which allow
a person to enter into a relationship with God. It is through loving
like God that we are deified. This is why Scheler sees the Christian
saint as a manifestation of strength and nobility and not manifesting
[edit] Weber

Max Weber in The Sociology of Religion relates Ressentiment to
Judaism, an ethical salvation religion of a "pariah people." Weber
defines Ressentiment as "a concomitant of that particular religious
ethic of the disprivileged which, in the sense expounded by Nietzsche
and in direct inversion of the ancient belief, teaches that the
unequal distribution of mundane goods is caused by the sinfulness and
the illegality of the privileged, and that sooner or later God's wrath
will overtake them." (Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion, (Boston:
Beacon Press, 1993), 110.
[edit] Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre used the term bad faith to describe a highly similar
phenomenon of blaming one's own failure on external factors and
therefore denying responsibility for oneself. The major difference
between the two is that Sartre presupposed the existence of free will,
whereas Nietzsche denied it - where Sartre's "bad faith" was the
denial of one's full capabilities, Nietzsche's "ressentiment" was a
mode of revenge directed against a source of suffering.
[edit] References

   1. ^ Poole, Roger. Kierkegaard, University of Virginia Press, 1993,
p. 226-228.
   2. ^ Stivers, Richard. Shades of loneliness, Rowman & Littlefield,
2004, p.14-16.
   3. ^ Davenport, John, et al. Kierkegaard after MacIntyre, Open
Court , 2001, p. 165.
   4. ^ Kaufmann, Walter. "Editor's Introduction, Section 3" On the
Genealogy of Morals in Nietzsche: Basic Writings; Walter Kaufmann, tr.
New York: The Modern Library, 1967.

[edit] See also

    * Søren Kierkegaard
    * Friedrich Nietzsche
    * Max Scheler
    * Existentialism
    * Psychology
    * Bad faith (existentialism)
    * Master-slave morality

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