Aristotle on Hate And Anger
How do hate and anger differ? And is hate always the wrong response?
When we look at what are often called “negative emotions” — fear, jealousy, anger, hatred, for instance — there is strong tendency in our contemporary society (particularly when it’s a matter of politics or culture) to do three different but connected things.
One of these is projecting these emotions onto others, typically people against whom we feel ourselves to be opposed. Another is denying or renaming those emotions on our own parts, or failing that, to excuse them in ourselves by displacing responsibility to those other people who “started it “(i.e. who provoked the reactive emotion on our own parts). The third is employing and invoking the language of emotions and morality in careless, uncritical, simplistic ways.
A prime example of this is the indiscriminate use of the term “hate.” The Left has arguably proven itself more effective than the Right in misusing this term and notion, extending it to their opponents, whether real, assumed, or only imagined — but they certainly don’t have a monopoly upon it. With a few exceptions — typically those glorying in it — it seems most people are willing to take for granted that “hate” or “hatred” is always bad, so accusing another of it, or being accused oneself, takes on a status almost of a logical deduction.
Hate is bad. So-and-so hates. Thus, So-and-so is bad (and we’re justified in hating them, or maybe just expressing our outrage, or disapproval, or pity, or. . . )
Two millennia ago, Aristotle established several very useful things about hate — and about the closely associated emotional dynamic of anger — particularly helpful and illuminating for our current cultural situation.
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