On envy

When a man is dead, we envy him no more; and we only half envy him when he is old.

Arthur Schopenhauer


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

23 thoughts on “On envy

  1. emmylgant says:

    Mulling over the ramifications of that statement…
    To life!


  2. Barry says:

    I gave up being envious of anybody, dead or alive, a long time ago. Now that I’m old, grey and wiser, I’ve decided no one else is better or more fortunate than I am 😉


  3. Excellent thought you’ve quoted here. Wise words indeed.


  4. mark says:

    “Give me those days with heart in riot,
    The depths of bliss that touched on pain,
    The force of hate, and love’s disquiet —
    Ah, give me back my youth again!”

    from Goethe’s “Faust” spoken by the
    Poet in ‘The Prelude In The Theatre’


    • makagutu says:

      Some days I tell myself I should read Goethe


      • mark says:

        Yes you definitely must if you ever get the chance. He was one of the most amazingly talented people that has ever lived, a true polymath.

        I’m just noticing now that I had a completely different take on the Schopenhauer quote to everyone else. I know that you have titled the post “On Envy” and the quote itself uses the word twice, but my initial reaction was that it was a comment on youth and being young and hence my use of a Goethe quote that immediately came to my mind.

        I’m thinking now that I probably didn’t notice the title of the post so therefore wasn’t influenced by it to change my mind. Now since I’ve come back I’ve looked at it so many different ways and still see it as a comment on youth and being young.

        Schopenhauer famously classed envy as a natural human emotion when he said this about schadenfreude,

        “To feel envy is human, to savor schadenfreude is diabolic.”

        Schadenfreude being pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others as opposed to envy which is a feeling of grudging or somewhat admiring discontent aroused by the possessions, achievements, or qualities of another.

        So by using this natural human feeling of envy in two states ie 0% envy level, “When a man is dead, we envy him no more” and then what he calls half envy so a 50% envy level, “we only half envy him when he is old.” It would seem logical to imply that a third not mentioned state of envy ie 100% envy level ‘complete envy’ would be felt towards the same man in the previous two examples when he was in his youth, his prime, when he was young.

        I agree that it does definitely say something about envy, but anything it does say about envy it also equally says about being young within a context of life as a whole. To me it says exactly the same as the Goethe quote but in an entirely different way, the way that a philosopher would. And vice versa, Goethe has said what Schopenhauer has said but in the way that a poet would say it.

        I know I’ve said quite a bit here but I was intrigued with my reaction compared to everyone else’s and so had to discover why.




        • makagutu says:

          Thanks Mark, this is quite an interesting way of looking at it and it makes a lot of sense.
          There is never a problem with saying quite a bit here.


  5. uju says:

    Hello friend of mine. I once read that our actions are fueled by envy– a desire to have what another owns. I guess it’s a good motivator.

    how are you dearest?


  6. Ruth says:

    After a man is dead we may envy him no more but we tend to glorify even the most inglorious of bastards.


  7. john zande says:

    Bingo! That is a man I could enjoy a beer with.


  8. Arkenaten says:

    I can never understand the point of envy, can you?


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