We all have enough strength to endure the misfortunes of others. François de la Rochefoucauld Schadenfreude is a perplexing emotion: on the one hand, it is pleasurable, some even argue one of the most pleasurable emotions, but on the other hand, it seems disgusting and inhumane, even sadistic, since we know we ought to be sad, rather than happy, about others’ misfortunes. In order to understand such a dissonance, we should distinguish between the emotion of schadenfreude and sadistic behaviour. In both cases, someone gets pleasure from another’s misfortune, but whereas schadenfreude is an emotion whose main concern, like that of other emotions, is a personal comparative concern, sadism is behaviour whose main concern is deriving pleasure from deliberately inflicting pain on someone else. Accordingly, schadenfreude is not as morally reprehensible as sadism and as the prevailing view considers it to be. The personal comparative concern Emotions are not theoretical detached attitudes; rather, they are interested experiences concerning the personal, and in particular the comparative, situation of the agent. Understanding something implies comparing it to different alternatives. This is true not only of intellectual reasoning, but of emotions as well. However, whereas intellectual comparisons typically express a detached and theoretical manner of comparison, emotional comparisons are made from a personal and interested perspective (see also Seip et al., Chapter 15 in this volume; Van Dijk and Ouwerkerk, Chapter 9 in this volume). An intellectual perspective sometimes attempts to overcome an emotional perspective.
|Title of host publication||Schadenfreude|
|Subtitle of host publication||Understanding Pleasure at the Misfortune of Others|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Number of pages||14|
|State||Published - 1 Jan 2014|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2014.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychology (all)