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Resentment implies we will excuse offenders, spare them our resentment, if we discover they did it by accident

Ressentiment is rather an antiquated term in French and for some time has had a meaning very similar to sentiment. Ressentiment comes from the verb ressentir, to feel strongly, just as sentiment comes from sentir. Before Nietzsche’s work, the initial re did not add much to the meaning of the term. Perhaps it suggested a certain persistence of the sentiment evoked, or its reappearance after being eclipsed by something else. Ressentiment was spoken of in reference to both positive feelings, such as gratitude, and negative feelings, such as hostility or the desire for revenge.

In general, the desire for revenge produces a revengeful action. But if this violence is not generated, if the desire cannot be satisfied, it has the tendency, like all desires, to endure and become even more of an irritation.

In its traditional meaning, therefore, ressentiment seems disposed, and even predisposed, to tend toward an idea of failure or a series of failures, which, by frustrating the desire, seem to reinforce it. It is probable that this tendency began even before Nietzsche, but only in draft form, and without implying that which is essential in the Nietzschean idea, that is, the irremediable character of failure, which is prone to having permanent effects on the personality of the victim. (Pg.167)
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Individual psychology inevitably ends up resenting this permanent frustration, and the need arises for a term that expresses this state of affairs. In French, the word ressentiment seems designed to play this role, to embrace the meaning that it has been finally given, not by a French writer, but by a German: Nietzsche. (Pg.171)
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It is failure that transforms the original desire into a desire for revenge, but the revenge cannot overcome this obstacle any more than the original desire, and dissatisfaction increases.

Like a wave over a rock, the desire for revenge shatters against the triumphant other and flows back toward the subject, who is left to become continuously submerged in ressentiment. (Pg.175)
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Observing this mutual affinity between the term and its modern semantic evolution does not lessen Nietzsche’s merits; on the contrary: it underlines his linguistic genius, which is even more remarkable in this case, in which he expresses himself in a language that is not his own. (Pg.182)
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Nietzsche saw in the “will to power” a quality of being individual that, more or less, unfailingly determines the destiny of the individuals. It is what Heidegger observed: the will to power, according to Nietzsche, is being. Heidegger, however, didn’t deduce all the consequences of this definition. For Nietzsche, those who have little will to power become necessarily the slaves of those who have more of it, who have domination engraved in their being.

What Nietzsche forgot is that, in a democratic world, relationships between individuals do not depend on the place they occupy in a mythical hierarchy of the will to power, but on a competitive mimicry, in which even the most capable are never certain that they have dominance. It is sufficient to read the painstaking work on his own will to power with a bit of good sense to understand that he unspeakably embraced the bitterest defeat, that is, ressentiment. (Pg.194)
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Betting everything on this certainty—and this is what he did—meant embracing, almost unerringly, defeat in real relationships with others; it meant being infected with the illness that Nietzsche despised the most: ressentiment. (Pg.198)
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Resentment, that is: the ill will, the negative disposition that we normally, and spontaneously, experience toward those who deliberately injured us, or simply manifested toward us contempt, a malevolent attitude, or careless indifference. (Pg.221)
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Resentment implies this, inasmuch as we will excuse offenders, spare them our resentment, if we discover that they did it by accident, or were just a child, or senile. In fact, that is precisely the way in which this reactive attitude is sensitive to changes in our beliefs. (Pg.229)
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However, we can also have a similar negative reaction toward offenses that are made to others. In that case this reactive attitude constitutes, according to Strawson, a strictly moral reaction, and to describe it we speak of indignation or of moral condemnation. Pg.233)
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The proto-moral attitude of resentment then becomes a properly moral sentiment when it becomes vicarious, when we feel offended by the offenses made to others.

Resentment, of course, is not the same thing as ressentiment, but it is related. According to Nietzsche, and also Max Scheler, ressentiment can be understood as a form of frustrated resentment. It is an inwardly turned negative attitude that occurs when agents are unable to express their resentment, unable to respond to the offense they have experienced. Ressentiment is failed resentment. It is not, however, failure to resent, for Nietzsche and Scheler, like Strawson, think that resentment is a spontaneous reactive attitude that is constitutive of human interactions. It is the failure to carry out, to formulate, or to act upon one’s resentment that gives rise to ressentiment. In consequence, ressentiment, unlike resentment, is not only what philosophers call an “occurring emotion,” an immediate reaction, but it is also a long-term disposition that settles in and establishes itself as a fundamental trait of character, which progressively poisons the agent’s soul. For ressentiment does not arise out of just any type of failure to react or to avenge an offense, as when the perpetrator ran away and escaped, but only when this incapacity reflects the agent’s weakness, his or her fear, or inability to face or to resist the offender. Ressentiment is a disease of the weak, who resent their own inferiority. It distorts their value system and makes them claim that they prefer forgiveness to revenge, or equality to hierarchy, when forgiveness is but a means to avenge themselves of those who are stronger, and equality a way to belittle those who are superior. Ressentiment disguises the truth of its own resentment; it lies to itself and to others. (Pg.249)
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Following Girard, Tomelleri argues that Nietzsche’s, and Scheler’s, concept of ressentiment transforms what is a moment within a social relation into an essence, into an intrinsic characteristic of certain individuals, those who are weak. In the mimetic rivalries that structure our lives we all experience failure and frustration; we all have the occasion to be weak and to become resentful. Ressentiment should not be construed as a disposition particular to some individuals, those who are weak, but as an attitude to which we are all subject at times. (Pg.280)
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Ressentiment, he argues, is closely related to the particular moment that we are living in the process of secularization, in the slow historical transformation from societies where victims are sacred, to societies where they are innocent and where the position of the victim can be exploited for one’s own advantage. “Playing the victim” is one of the forms that ressentiment takes in a globalized world where the unifying power of the nation-state is dwindling. (Pg.284)
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Freedom and ressentiment are our lot. That is, freedom from ressentiment and freedom through ressentiment, and freedom we will only keep if we do not turn ressentiment into our scapegoat. That is the central lesson of this remarkable little book that challenges our beliefs and certainty. (Pg.308)

I couldn’t respond to early aggressions, and now it’s suppressed deep inside me.

“Ressentiment: Reflections on Mimetic Desire and Society (Breakthroughs in Mimetic Theory)” by Stefano Tomelleri

WE&P By: EZorrilla.

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