It is not enough to succeed; others must fail. (Gore Vidal)
Malice is like a game of poker or tennis; you don’t play it with anyone who is manifestly inferior to you. (Hilde Spiel)
Arthur Schopenhauer argues that to feel envy is human, but to enjoy other people’s misfortune is diabolical. For Schopenhauer, pleasure-in-others’-misfortune is the worst trait in human nature since it is closely related to cruelty.
In describing pleasure-in-others’-misfortune, two features are not disputable: our pleasure and the other’s misfortune. These features describe a significant conflict between our positive evaluation of the situation and the negative evaluation of the other person. This conflict indicates the presence of a comparative, and sometimes even, a competitive, concern. A major reason for being pleased with the misfortune of another person is that this person’s misfortune may somehow benefit us; it may, for example, emphasise our superiority.