A recent newspaper story suggests a significant change in the attitude of some baseball fans. While the phenomenon of harassment of players from the stands is not new, there seems to be a new spirit behind the hurling of bottles and other dangerous debris. Whereas such attacks were once motivated by scorn for poor performance or by a violent enthusiasm for the opposing team, spectators are now also apparently moved by envy. They are, according to a number of sportswriters, jealous and resentful of the high salaries and prestige of professional ballplayers. No doubt envy is an ancient phenomenon, but it is not one much discussed in recent moral philosophy. Both the neglect and the signs that it is becoming an increasingly large problem of personal and social life (I'll later be adding more to what might be taken to be the merely idiosyncratic behavior of sports fans) suggest the need for an analysis of its motives, dynamics and possible antidotes. Nietzsche seems to be one of the few modern thinkers who have devoted much attention to envy after the scholastics' attempt at an encyclopedic and systematic account of the virtues and vices. Nietzsche's concern with the subject is much more pervasive than is suggested by the scanty references to Neid and its derivatives in Schlechta's index; moreover, his analysis must be distinguished from the treatment of the allied concept of ressentiment which has generated much attention. (For example, envy is discussed at least fourteen times in Human, All-Too-Human, appropriately enough.)

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Copyright © 1983 Philosophy Documentation Center. This article first appeared in International Studies in Philosophy 15, no. 2 (1983): 3-12. doi:10.5840/intstudphil198315240.

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