Spot the difference: Word version

March 10, 2012

One thing I learned today from my philosophy class had nothing to do with our lecture on Bertrand Russell and why he was not a Christian. My professor explained the difference between resentment and contempt.

Resentment is directed towards someone higher than you in status while contempt is directed towards someone lower than you. Wikipedia goes on to explain that anger is directed towards people of equal status.

Unlike resentment, indignation, and contempt, and like anger hatred is an emotion that treats the other on an equal-footing, neither degrading him as “subhuman” (as in contempt) nor treating him with the lack of respect due to a moral inferior (as in indignation) nor humbling oneself before (or away from) him with the self-righteous impotence of resentment. – An excerpt from The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life by Robert C. Solomon

Therefore, “I resent you” does not mean the same as “I am angry at you” or “I hate you”, nor does it go on the same level as contemptuousness.


YES- I resent those involved in the shady game of corruption in the Philippine government.

NO- I resent you for beating me at Fruit Ninja.

YES – I am filled with contempt because of their sheer inadequacy.

NO – Almost everyone has this feeling of contempt because she’s constantly power tripping.



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