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No basis for Hating people - in his latest podcast

 
Larry Olson
 
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Larry Olson
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13 February 2016 15:54
 

In the latest podcast Sam Harris says there is no basis for hating people. How about if the hate drives you to do something good? I.e. if Hitchens hates catholic church, or a catholic person, and it drives him to write a book about how deluded certain hated people are…

I suppose you will simply argue that it’s not hate, it is dislike or disagreement.

I think hate can drive people to do great things, but also terrible things. It is more important to Hate the object such as the church, rather than the person. i.e. hate Islam but not hate muslims personally. Hate the software running on their brain but not hate the person individually. What do you think?

I doubt you could stop hating a sexually abusive parent or someone who murdered 20 people in your family for no reason.

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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13 February 2016 16:04
 

Amen, Larry. Hatred plays an important role in societies. Earlier today, I was misunderstood to be tongue-in-cheek about something, so I’ll emphasize here that I’m quite serious. Hatred, though perhaps usually destructive, plays an essential role in human interactions.

 
 
SkepticX
 
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13 February 2016 16:04
 
 
 
NL.
 
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NL.
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13 February 2016 21:34
 

I think it depends on what you mean by hate. Hate can mean a sort of storm of violent emotions which, if attended to in a mindful way by a single individual, are neither here nor there. It might mean a strong behavioral response that, in some circumstances, could be called for. I think the definition of ‘hate’ that is never productive equates somewhat to dehumanizing, and I agree this is, when you get right down to it, simply illogical. A denial of the fact that other people are as much a product of causal chains as you are, that their perspective seems just as obviously right to them as yours does to you, that they are equally human. (On the flip side, I think people have equally problematic ideas about “love” - I think there is an idea of love that can be almost as destructive as hate. The idea that love involves seeing only the good side of people. I think true love is seeing someone realistically - all the games, strategies, and defenses they’ve picked up from surviving as a vulnerable creature in the world - and caring about them anyways. Loving some idealized version of a person or people that doesn’t actually exist can, like hating some caricature of a person that doesn’t actually exist, cause a lot of trouble in the world.)


Other thoughts on that podcast (rather than starting another thread on almost the same topic):


- I am slowly making peace with the idea that Harris is apparently going to be very confused about his political views for a very long time, and that this is ok. In a sense, at least. Ok-ish. It provides an exercise in working on my own tribalism and fair-weather-friend-ism. I think he is getting some things horribly wrong, and it almost pains me to watch. But learning how to disagree with a specific idea without it shading my conception of the entire person is an important exercise for life in the modern world, I think.


- Regarding above mentioned confusion, to my mind Harris is in the closet or in denial or some combination of both about his conservatism. A funny role reversal, as we usually think of this dynamic happening to free spirits born into conservative environments. But Harris happened to be born on the west coast into a Hollywood family / peer group and a spiritual tradition that is super focused on non-clinging and non-attachment and everything going as soon as it comes. And what is conservatism if not the wish to conserve something, to hold on to it, to hold it up as an ideal and shelter, strengthen, and nurture it? It’s kinda hard to watch the narrative stretches he engages in while insisting that he is liberal or on the left or whatever, but I’m sorry, it simply ain’t so. Quotes like “Noam Chomsky’s worldview is the moral black hole swallowing everything on the left side of the political spectrum” or that “Glenn Greenwald reflexively aligns with theocrats”, or claims that by Chomsky’s standards we would be the bad guys in WWII because more Germans were killed than Americans kind of speak to this to me. I have no idea what Chomsky’s worldview is but an inexplicable narrative that involves some posturing and name-calling but is otherwise quite pacifistic as “moral black hole” seems odd when you consider the alternate narratives that exist in the world. The idea that Greenwald always sides with theocrats is out and out false, as any cursory bit of research would show (he does tend to - not always, but tends to - side with anti-government populists, which I think is an annoyingly idealistic bias based on some idea of near-anarchic utopias, but he seems rather impartial to the religion of whatever anti-establishment group is in question). To omit the minor fact that the Germans also killed around eleven million people during the time of WWII seems like a rather large contextual omission when creating analogies. Etc. There is a theme to this line of reasoning.


To my mind, true liberals are like true artists. They personify the saying “achingly beautiful”. Emphasis on achingly. No one ever said “I’d like to meet an emotionally intense and unpredictable aspiring artist living on pennies in a loft in Amsterdam so that I can enjoy all the stability, coherence, and peace of mind that brings.” By definition, liberalism is equated with instability, change, shakiness, fleetingness, and so on. A relationship with an artist is about knowing your heart is going to be broken and hoping that brief moment in time was worth it. This is why most people are conservatives at heart, whether on the right or the left, with occasional moments of liberalism in between times of stability. And most people are more or less ok with this. I get the idea that Sam is at war with this idea within himself, though, perhaps because of his Buddhist orientation. You know what Sam? Make peace with conservatism. No one likes getting their heart ripped out by change all the time. Most of us have a rather occasional relationship to true liberalism that arises when things get bad enough, like when homosexuals had been persecuted for decades and people are like “Oh for fucks sakes, enough with this bullshit”. But then when we have things settled the way we more or less like them, we want to keep it that way. To conserve.


- He needs to talk about something other than Islam. But if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. Good to hear his thoughts, either way.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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14 February 2016 07:45
 

The emotion of hate interferes with good reason.

 
SkepticX
 
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14 February 2016 08:21
 
hannahfriend - 14 February 2016 07:45 AM

The emotion of hate interferes with good reason.


I’d only modify that to say hate aimed at a person or people interferes with good reason, but hate aimed at seriously harmful ideas and actions and politics and such ... maybe, maybe not.

 
 
Twissel
 
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14 February 2016 08:40
 

Hate as a motivator has the serious risk to ‘overshooting’ the target of just correcting what was wrong.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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14 February 2016 10:49
 
Twissel - 14 February 2016 08:40 AM

Hate as a motivator has the serious risk to ‘overshooting’ the target of just correcting what was wrong.

I agree. I feel that if the current world’s supply of hatred could somehow be significantly reduced, the resulting benefit would be equivalent to a cure for cancer or heart disease. I see so much unnecessary and destructive hatred in the world that I hesitate to describe how it is that I also see a very low-level need for some amount of intense hatred at times in a person’s life. I’ll give an example of possible therapeutic hatred, but since I lack even minimal training as a therapist, my words need to be taken for what they are: philosophical—or at best folk-psychology—ramblings to be taken with a grain of salt. If any legitimate shrinks are reading this, please point out how I’m mistaken, if I am, with the following example.

When a person has a tendency to fall in love with a nasty personality type, she can also tend not to be capable of leaving and forgetting those they’ve fallen in love with. Especially if she’s perhaps religiously tuned in to loving and forgiving as opposed to hating and blaming, she can experience repeated violence done to her and her children. If her personality/upbringing doesn’t allow her to hate with abandon at times, she’s a vulnerable puppy and leaves herself open to being kicked again and again.

I don’t think that most religious people are free of hatred, however. They might be able to convince themselves and others that they only love and never hate, but that’s a result of self-deception for the most part. I can’t imagine ever offering my little take on the matter of therapeutic hatred to any individual person, because it seems clear to me that the vast majority of people are perfectly capable of intensely hating others. Very few people need to be encouraged to hate more rather than less. Yet I think that some might benefit from more hatred at various times in their lives in order to assist them in clearing away attraction to nasty people.

 

 

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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14 February 2016 13:43
 

I’d venture that falling in love with nasty people is sometimes a form of self-hatred.  A woman might think she deserves the abuse for her perceived sins.  Or she may feel she has no way to make a new life on her own.  She may feel ashamed to ask for help or scared of retribution.  It is tragic.  But still, it does not require hate to escape.

I remember talking with a woman who was married to an abusive alcoholic (at least emotionally abusive; not sure about physical).  She was a fundamentalist Christian who did not believe in divorce.  So she was trying to love him, or at least justify staying with him.  This can get into all kinds of crazy thinking, like, “What Jesus suffered on the cross was way worse than this.  So this is my cross,” or similar harmful illogic. 

In contrast, a friend told me about a relative who was married to an abusive alcoholic, but didn’t believe in divorce.  So she moved out.  Stayed married, but refused to live with him unless he got sober.  She had to protect herself.  This is tough love.  She didn’t need to hate him to do what was rational.

 
nonverbal
 
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14 February 2016 13:47
 
hannahfriend - 14 February 2016 01:43 PM

. . . She didn’t need to hate him to do what was rational.

But that’s one person. Other people might not be able to break free from abusive relationships otherwise. This is what my own first-hand experience has taught me.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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14 February 2016 14:05
 
nonverbal - 14 February 2016 01:47 PM
hannahfriend - 14 February 2016 01:43 PM

. . . She didn’t need to hate him to do what was rational.

But that’s one person. Other people might not be able to break free from abusive relationships otherwise. This is what my own first-hand experience has taught me.

You could be right, depending on the circumstances.  Rather than hate, one would hope the motive could be self-preservation.  Hate is always a heavy burden to bear, a dark cloud to live under. 

 

 
nonverbal
 
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14 February 2016 14:41
 
hannahfriend - 14 February 2016 02:05 PM
nonverbal - 14 February 2016 01:47 PM
hannahfriend - 14 February 2016 01:43 PM

. . . She didn’t need to hate him to do what was rational.

But that’s one person. Other people might not be able to break free from abusive relationships otherwise. This is what my own first-hand experience has taught me.

You could be right, depending on the circumstances.  Rather than hate, one would hope the motive could be self-preservation.  Hate is always a heavy burden to bear, a dark cloud to live under. 

 

Yes—self preservation was the motive.

 
 
Poldano
 
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15 February 2016 00:17
 

Hatred to the point of dehumanizing the object of hatred may be an unavoidable part of the system of morality. In the absence of legitimate authority, there is no protection from some wrongdoing other than the destruction of the wrongdoer, and hatred makes that easier to bring about.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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15 February 2016 07:18
 
Poldano - 15 February 2016 12:17 AM

Hatred to the point of dehumanizing the object of hatred may be an unavoidable part of the system of morality. In the absence of legitimate authority, there is no protection from some wrongdoing other than the destruction of the wrongdoer, and hatred makes that easier to bring about.

This sounds extreme.  Of course there is protection, short of “destruction of the wrongdoer.”  A person can be punished by paying restitution, losing rights, serving time in prison, being deported.  A judge and jury don’t need to “hate” someone to impose a penalty.  In the ideal situation, the penalty would help to rehabilitate the wrong-doer and repair the relationship with the community. 

Our criminal justice system falls far short of ideal.  However, smaller institutions, such as schools or neighborhoods sometimes function more toward the idea.  For example, student courts.

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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15 February 2016 18:51
 

Using hate as a motivator to “do good” is like using dynamite to power your car — it might work, but you’ll blow yourself up. Hate will eventually destroy you, even if the motive behind it is moral or justified.

 
 
SkepticX
 
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15 February 2016 19:09
 
Sarcastic Fringehead - 15 February 2016 06:51 PM

Using hate as a motivator to “do good” is like using dynamite to power your car — it might work, but you’ll blow yourself up. Hate will eventually destroy you, even if the motive behind it is moral or justified.


I’d say I hate injustice, selfish dishonesty and casual or negligent self-deception, and hasty judgmentalism (among some other such nastiness).

I don’t think any of that’s a problem as described.

If it’s directed at people though, I’d say your point is closer to the truth, but I’d still say it’s overstated in any but pretty extreme cases.

It doesn’t seem as if people are making that distinction though—maybe just not dealing with that aspect in here I guess. Would be nice to see that acknowledged though, because if that distinction isn’t going on then it seems there could be some serious, potentially problematic confusion here.

 
 
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