This week, we will consider how Aristotle’s philosophy applies to romantic jealo
This week, we will consider how Aristotle’s philosophy applies to romantic jealousy.
According to Aristotle, the ultimate end of all human activity is eudaimonia, which is often translated as happiness or flourishing or living well. Moreover, he thought that in order to achieve eudaimonia we needed to cultivate the different human virtues — such as courage, temperance, and prudence — which are character traits that regulate our emotions, feelings, and actions.
Most people would agree the quality of their romantic relationships play a significant role in determining whether they are living a happy life. One of the emotions often associated with such relationships is jealousy, or “the emotion of being pained by a perceived threat from a third party to the attention of someone we care about and to which we feel entitled.” Jealousy is often viewed as an emotion which is a natural, normal, and even healthy part of romantic relationships, though it can also be taken too far and be destructive.
In the provocative essay linked below, however, Luke Brunning argues that romantic jealousy is a vice we should seek to expunge from our lives. Furthermore, he argues that we should actively cultivate the virtue of “compersion,” which he defines as the “trait of feeling good when our partners flourish with other people.”
Whereas romantic jealousy seems most compatible with conventional monogamous relationships, compersion seems most compatible with polyamorous or “open” relationships, what some call “ethical non-monogamy.” This type of relationship is on the rise in the United States, with perhaps 4-5% of Americans practicing some form of polyamory (Links to an external site.), and some speculate that this will be the future of romantic relationships in general.
This symposium asks you to think about the role that romantic jealousy ought to have within a flourishing human life. In your initial post you should answer at least one of the questions below in light of the assigned chapter and readings from Aristotle. This means your initial post should demonstrate your understanding of virtue theory as well as answer at least one of the questions below.
Is jealousy a character trait in Aristotle’s sense? Is compersion? Why?
Is romantic jealousy a virtue? If so, how can it contribute to eudaimonia?
Is romantic jealousy a vice? If so, how does it prevent eudaimonia?
Is “compersion” a virtue? If so, how can it contribute to eudaimonia?
Are (consensual) polyamorous or conventional monogamous relationships more likely to lead to a flourishing human life? Why?
To fully engage with this topic, you will need to read (or listen to) the article, “Imagine there’s no Jealousy” (Links to an external site.) by Luke Brunning.
This symposium is a chance for you to discuss together the ethical issues and questions that it raises, your own response to those, and whether that aligns with or does not align with a virtue ethics approach. The aim is not to simply assert your own view or to denigrate other views, but to identify, evaluate, and discuss the moral reasoning involved in addressing the ethics of working and living will.
Brunning, Luke. (February 27, 2019) Imagine there’s no Jealousy. Retrieved from: https://aeon.co/essays/love-without-jealousy-consider-the-benefits-of-compersion (Links to an external site.)
Goldhill, Olivia. (December 20, 2018) Polyamory is a Quietly Revolutionary Political Movement. Retrieved from: https://qz.com/1501725/polyamorous-sex-is-the-most-quietly-revolutionary-political-weapon-in-the-united-states/