From Ressentiment to Resentment as a Tertiary Emotion

  •  Warren D. TenHouten    


Resentment is a noxious emotion that can exist in sublimated form as a result of being subjected to inferiorization, stigmazation, or violence. In its active form, resentment can be a forceful response to acts that have created unjustified and meaningless suffering. We consider sociomoral conceptualizations of resentment by Adam Smith, Hume, and Lévinas. Nietzsche and Scheler developed the broader notion of ressentiment, a generalized form of resentment arising out of powerlessness and the experience of brutalization neither forgotten nor forgiven. Resentment is seen historically as a sentiment that is saturated with frustration, contempt, outrage, and malevolence. Marshall described oppositional class-consciousness as permeated with resentment and anger, but resentment also contains the basic emotions of surprise and disgust. Resentment is linked to the concept of relative deprivation. A partial classification of emotions is used to further analyze resentment as containing three secondary-level emotions: contempt (anger & disgust), shock (surprise & disgust), and outrage (surprise & anger). Thus, resentment is conceptualized as a tertiary-level emotion, containing three primary and three secondary emotions.

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  • ISSN(Print): 1918-7173
  • ISSN(Online): 1918-7181
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: quarterly

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