[extropy-chat] Usefulness of Anger and Hate

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Fri Dec 15 04:21:42 UTC 2006

Jef writes

>> Recall the manifold reasons that anger evolved in animals.  I 
>> doubt very much if our ability to abstactly reason completely 
>> nullifies the usefulness of this emotion. Would you like 
>> personally to be rendered incapable of anger?
> Similar to the recent confusion between rationality and morality, are we
> now conflating anger with hate?

'Twasn't I who conflated rationality and morality  :-)   To me, they're
as different as night and day.  Now, I do like your characterization
of *anger*:

> * Anger describes an emotion, providing a useful indication when one's
> values are being seriously offended.  Further, expressing one's anger
> can be very effective in communicating with those people who are
> disposed to assessing right and wrong in terms of feelings (especially
> other people's feelings) rather than assessing in rational thinking
> terms.

> * Hate describes a belief, a filter for perceiving and making sense of
> the world, that some entity is *bad*, and thus causing one's feelings of
> anger. While it is very effective in promoting group bonding and
> cohesion, it does so by reducing the context of awareness and is
> therefore detrimental to morality.

I don't understand this at all.   Hate is a *belief*?  It is, of course, a
behavioral disposition.  Does it extend into the kingdom of the lower
animals as *anger* does?  I wish I knew.  Hate is a permanent sort
of anger.

Before you dismiss it as detrimental to morality, recall that "hatred of
oppression", and "hatred of injustice", and the like, have served to
liberate a lot of people.  Hatred is certainly a form of intolerance.
It differs only from disapproval, I submit, because of its emotional
component. As was succinctly stated by Rafal in one of his posts,
hatred could carry one through to finish some task once begun
(e.g. eliminating Carthage).

In that sense---of helping one to complete goals already set upon---
it resembles how Julian Jaynes used to describe the utility of linguistic
expressions:  Suppose that shortly after the agricultural revolution
had begun, a man managed to say to himself "I shall work until dusk".
This allows him, according to Jaynes, to remain longer upon a fixed
task than he would be able to do sans the verbal facility.  Without
the facility, his mind would wander, and at some point tiredness
would prompt him to consider some other activity.

Slaves ought to hate their oppressors, IMO.  And, as I said before,
hatred of bullies, vandals, and criminals is probably a good thing,
and if more people partook, we'd have fewer of them.


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