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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Jealousy is widely regarded as a “negative emotion.” Recently, however, there have been attempts to rehabilitate it, either as biologically functional or even as a moral virtue. This chapter rejects these defenses. It suggests that the standard jealousy-eliciting sexual or romantic situation can and sometimes should be re-gestalted as an occasion for “compersion,” or joy taken in the loved one’s pleasure and happiness. The possibility of such a transmutation is suggested by the fact that a common core of arousal can sometimes elicit contrary emotional responses, depending on the framing story in terms of which it is construed. The idea also draws support from an analogy with the dual nature of pain, as both sensation and aversive/motivation. If an aversive jealousy response can be converted into compersion in the way suggested, it would illustrate an important aspect of the mutability of emotions. It would also have highly desirable practical consequences.

Keywords: jealousy, emotional ideology, aversiveness, sensation, pain, polyamory, compersion, arousal

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