While we're talking about envy, jealousy, and spite, I'm interested in how people distinguish among these and related concepts.
Robert Nozick has a famous discussion of them in a (very) long footnote in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (page 239 for those who are interested). He makes some subtle distinctions, and they do seem to correspond with concepts that we actually have. I'm not sure, though, that his explications of envy, jealousy, and spite match my intuitive ones.
Nozick has this little matrix that applies to some sort of good, whether it's money, fame, success, sexual desirability, or whatever. The possibilities that he imagines boil down to these:
1. Both you and the other person have it.
2. The other person has it and you don't.
3. You have it and the other person doesn't.
4. Neither of you has it.
The question is: What are your preferences among 1., 2., 3., and 4.?
Nozick has a complicated analysis that has now left me wondering, though I do think that someone who prefers 4. to 1. is spiteful. Nozick defines spite as preferring 4. to 1. while preferring 3. to 4. I guess that's fair enough.
But what about jealousy and envy? And Nozick adds a couple of other categories - someone who is begrudging and someone who is merely competitive (which he doesn't really disapprove of).
What if you prefer 4. to 2. but prefer 1. to 4. (while your favourite is actually 3.). Is that jealousy or envy? Is it a form of spite? What if you're neutral between 1. and 3., both of which you prefer to 2., while putting 4. last? That's okay isn't it? There are lots of possibilities. What if your preferences are, in order, 1., 3., 2. 4.? That would seem fairly normal and healthy to me. Yes? But some people might list their preferences as 3., 1., 2. 4. Is that jealousy?
Anyone who prefers 4. to 2. seems very worrying, and someone who prefers 4. to 1. even more so.