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ENVY: A Theory of Social Behaviour Reprint Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Schoeck has assembled a vast array of information on the manifestations of envy in societies spanning the globe and across time. He has ferreted out information from the sociological and anthropological literature, fiction literature, cultural fables, crime data, political debates, among other sources. He uses example after real world example to show how ubiquitous envy is as a state of mind, and how various cultures deal more or less successfully with it. Societies that are successful in dealing with envy are essentially those that largely suppress its active, overt expression.
Numerous cases from the sociological and anthropological literature indicate how primitive societies, where objective differences between society members are much smaller than in more developed cultures, actually have more severe problems with the expression of envy than do cultures where such differences are larger. He shows how world-wide in primitive cultures, the 'evil eye' is universally regarded as the sorcerous expression of envious malice, and further shows the lengths to which primitive peoples will go to avoid or deflect the evil eye. Schoeck reveals from objective sources that such envy appeasement is not limited to primitive societies, but that egalitarian redistributionist policies are merely the manifestation of envy avoidance and/or appeasement in industrialized nations.
Schoeck spends extensive energies analyzing the egalitarian-utopian impulse and its various practical experiments.Read more ›
Envy does not merely arise out of materialism or acquisitiveness, but rather a deep-seated desire within humans to be equal to, or better than, others; to avoid the evil eye (a great inhibitor to the accumulation of wealth) or ostracism, a common practice in ancient Greece. Schoeck, through numerous case studies, reveals how primitive peoples are just as capable of envy as the modern affluent.
As the most insightful book on the subject I have ever read, it should be referred to often and studied religiously.
Enter Helmut Schoek who traces the origins of envy through cultures, philosophy, psychology and politics. After reading this book you will be able to see how politicians appeal to this basest of human emotions to engender dissatisfaction and rage.
The phenomenology of envy needs to be studied in depth because of its pervasiveness in human nature, and societies worldwide. No people, government, religon or social group is immune from its poison.
Because of my proximity in NW, USA his description of the potlatch societies was particularly thought provoking. I believe their relative stasis for 9,000 years can largely be attributed the way in which they treated envy.
Successful societies are those that have developed and continue to nurture coping mechanisms to reduce the prominence this most dangerous of human traits. Unsuccessful societies allow envy to be come prominent and often celebrate it's deflection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Schoeck uses history as laboratory of envy. Ancient Greece, Maori, Navaho, etc. and then French Revolution, Stalin, Hitler, and so on. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Clay Garner
An extraordinary, surprising, brilliant book. Not only does he tackle a subject that is shrouded in taboo with great rational clarity, he goes on to provide a fascinating theory of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jake Desyllas
The clear driver of socialism is Envy. Read this book and find out how blowing someone else's candle out DOES NOT make yours brighter.Published 5 months ago by T. Jorgensen
A couple of years ago I became interested in envy. This can happen when you are retired and have time to think. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Stanley
I read this book well into my 50's and have to admit that it gave me a new understanding of current and past political and social trends. Read morePublished 8 months ago by El Cid
I found nothing particularly profound in this book. It is thoroughly researched, written in a stilted, convoluted manner of academia as befitting a treatise conforming to... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Customer
If you grew up with egalitarian ideology as much as did I, this pleasant book is a little difficult to follow at first, because of prejudice that there is nothing better than... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Peter Oliphant
If you grew up with egalitarian ideology as much as did I, this pleasant book is a little difficult to follow at first, because of you grew up with the prejudice that there is... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Peter Oliphant