Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Is Hatred Ever Appropriate?

According to John Duns Scotus, to love something is to will its goodness; and following Augustine, goodness and being are coextensive.  Something is good to the extent that it has being, thus something that is completely evil would not exist.  The more being the more goodness.  In loving one wills the being of something or the being in a certain way.

To hate something is to will its non-existence.  So, for instance, a murderer might commit the murder out of hatred wanting the person no longer to exist (but perhaps one could kill one's pet out of love). Or if one hates pinball one wills that pinball machines cease to exist.

I take it as a doctrine of Christianity that no human is to hate another human.  Instead, one is to love (love taking on various forms in various contexts).  So is there ever an appropriate object of hatred for humans?

Sin seems like a prime example, ("Love the sinner, hate the sin.")  But on the Augustinian view (which Scotus also holds) sin is a privation, a lack, an absence.  Now if there are lacks or privations in one's ontology, then one has an appropriate object of hatred ready to hand: sin.

But suppose one holds to a sparse ontology which admits of no lacks (no holes in the pavement, etc.) Then statements about sin are true ("murder is a sin") though we should not think that sin has being (and thus goodness on the Augustinian view) in virtue of which such statements are true.  Rather the statements are true because there are things which lack goodness, things which are disharmonious with the way they should be and the like.

So are there any other candidates for appropriate hatred?  Here are three:

1. Sinful thoughts, beliefs, ideas--those thoughts, beliefs, etc. which lack truth, goodness, etc.  One should want them eradicated and replaced with true and pure thoughts.

2. Sinful desires, intentions, and actions--actions which are evil and not as they should be.  One should want them destroyed and replaced with one's which are better or the best.

3. Finally, the sinful states of affairs produced by sinful beliefs, desires, etc.

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