The Opposed Virtues... Temperance:Courage::Wisdom:Justice
What is Ressentiment (aka- Slave Morality)? Fuel for the Internet?Ressentiment is an emotion in the resentment family. And so before exploring ressentiment we must first explore resentment. By resentment here we mean a sense of being wronged - of being insulted, offended or deprived unjustly. It is an emotional alarm bell signalling that our self-esteem has been attacked. It’s important to note the moral undertone here. The great 20th century philosopher of justice John Rawls suggests that resentment (and by extension ressentiment) assumes equality and hence is tied to our justice complex.Another key distinction is between resentment and indignation. In the case of resentment the victim is ourselves; in the case of indignation the victim is somebody else. Both are moral emotions, but resentment and its offspring aren’t merely morally scandalous, but personal experiences of attack.So resentment then is a moral emotion in which we are the victims. But what separates resentment from ressentiment? In their article Resentment and Ressentiment Meltzer and Musolf explore the various definitions of ressentiment in the literature and they identify two key features of the term that distinguish it from resentment:1) the chronic ongoing character of the emotional experience the powerlessness of the individual experiencing the emotion to take retaliatory action against the sources of their emotional storm. Resentment then is the fruit of sporadic, isolated injustices whereas ressentiment is related to ongoing, lasting injustices. Something can happen today that makes you feel resentful but you might forget it tomorrow and never think of it again or only rarely. That would be resentment. You have been wronged but it’s far from a defining theme of your life.2) But when the injustice is something that you engage with daily and are powerless to affect then we’re talking about a different animal. We’ve moved from resentment to ressentiment. Whenever we feel like a David fighting a Goliath — when we feel like a bug being tortured by a giant (Kafka "Metamorphosis") — then we have entered the realm of ressentiment. If you feel like the Patriarchy dominates how you live your life or if you feel like liberals and their Social Justice Movement are polluting schools and destroying the culture, then you're in the throes of ressentiment.
And on that note, we have carved out the emotional territory of Ressentiment.