Hate, the book: 080

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Three
Chapter Fifteen
Meeting the Definition   (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Keep in mind that our single purpose in this work to define and understand hate is to focus on people, and only people. So far we have agreed that true hate, not pseudo “hate” that refers to an extreme dislike of something like broccoli, leads to the hurting or killing of people.

Therefore, with all due deference to broccoli haters, you can’t hate it in a true sense. You have no way to do it “harm,” the way it’s possible for, say, a supremacist to harm someone who looks different from themselves.

Sure, you can prefer any other vegetable with dinner, and you are welcome to dislike the vegetable, but using the word hate in this context is not appropriate here.  Thus, the LMWD is wrong about hate.

What about the dictionary’s definition of enmity and the attempt to use that definition to prove enmity is synonymous with hate?

The problem here is we are unable to use the dictionary’s definition of enmity, which is: an expression of a position or actions that are antagonistic toward someone or something.

Using this definition has us going around in circles again, as antagonism is defined as causing someone to be hostile or unfriendly.

Consider someone who dislikes broccoli so much that he pickets a store that sells it with a “Don’t Buy Broccoli!” sign.

This picketing may anger owners of the store, but eliciting anger wasn’t the goal.  Any anger that resulted from the picketing was a side effect.  The picketer just doesn’t want people buy broccoli.

So the above logic shows that extreme enmity doesn’t always equate to hate.  Therefore it’s wrong to equate the two.

Definition

Given all this, then, and without any further beating around the proverbial bush, what is a good working and learning definition of hate?

Hate is a mental state in an individual desiring to hurt or damage another individual or a group of individuals.

That’s all there is to it.  Hate.  A mental state.  Intent to harm.

As simple as this may seem look, there are quite a few implications as to how this new definition changes the way we look at the world.  Therefore, the next step will be to reassemble this definition one element at a time, and examine how it all works in much greater detail.  And the easiest way for us to do this is through one of the most powerful learning tools our species has ever developed: the story.

Please allow me to introduce you to our first play about hate.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 079

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Three
Chapter Fifteen
Meeting the Definition

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

“ ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, as Lewis Carroll  “Through the Looking Glass” 1871, 1946 edition, pg 94

 

We finished our last chapter with a bold statement: the dictionary’s definition of hate is wrong.  To its credit, the Langenscheidt’s Merriam-Webster English Dictionary (LMWD) is a fantastic tool for communication within our language. It helps keep English speakers on roughly the same page when communicating.

But it’s not designed to be a tool for learning, scientific or otherwise.  It is a reporting tool that gives us a snapshot of how our language is used amongst ourselves.  On that basis, the LMWD can’t be wrong or right.

It’s especially wrong for our purposes, however, because its definition of hate doesn’t work in reality.

Let’s examine this more closely. First, the LMWD says that hate is either a feeling of extreme enmity, or a strong aversion to something.

In order to prove this statement is wrong in the extreme, all I need to do is show that it doesn’t work all the time.  In other words, if I can find one instance where either part of this definition fails, that’s enough to make it inadequate for the purposes of rigorous learning.

Second, the definitions of enmity and aversion conflict with the notion that they equate to hate.  We’ll leave aversion off the table for now because we’ll deal with it later in a different way.

So let’s consider the LMWD assertion that states enmity is a feeling of hate. Right away we have a problem, because if all I say is that hate equals enmity, and enmity equals hate, I’ve gotten nowhere. It’s as if I wanted to go for a walk, stepped outside, and started strolling around in circles. It may look like an excursion, but after a few turns I’d eventually realize the scenery never changed and I was getting nowhere.
It’s the same with the LMWD saying that hate is the same as enmity. Yes, we tend to consider the two synonymous in the course of everyday conversation. But if we hope to understand hate as more than a concept, and do something to mitigate its effects on mankind, we must demand a better definition.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 078

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Three
Chapter Fourteen
Definitions Defined   (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

It shouldn’t be very hard for you to find hate plays of your own by simply reading today’s news headlines.  In fact, I encourage you to try it, and apply what you’re about to learn here to see if it doesn’t help you understand the phenomenon of hate a little better.  Since all the tools will have been introduced, and you will have exposure to at least two hate plays, I’m going to talk about the play structure in general.  Specifically, it has to do with the relationships between our Source, Target, and Observer.  It turns out that we can turn their relationships into a series of simple “greater than” or “equal to” or “less than” statements.

Since we can do that, it means we can apply a little bit of math to these situations.  Don’t let that scare you; you won’t have to deal with any complicated mathematical equations.  That’s because there are only a few settings in which hate can be expressed.  That fact simplifies our task greatly and will enable us to understand hate in all its forms via a manageable amount of study.

Finally, once we’ve completed all of the above, we can walk away from our study with a definition of hate we can all agree on.  Yes, constructing a specific definition will be tough work, but as you’ll see not impossible.  The chief obstacles to this task have been identified by great minds already, some of whom have been mentioned in earlier chapters.

There is another aspect to the construction of our our definition of hate that must be made explicit, and that is what areas we must avoid.  Some have already been mentioned, like fear, anger, rage, disdain, and insolence.  There are many more, including snubbing, snobbery and anxiety.

I plan to leave all of these alone as much as possible, so that we can focus on our core concept.

Isolating that central concept will be our most important task, as trying cast a wider net into peripheral issues could well throw us off track.

Now, it may be that through our construction of a good definition of hate,the task of creating related definitions for related topics might be made that much easier for future researchers. But at this point it’s too early to tell. And as I said, dealing with these peripheral issues risks distracting us from our primary task.

As the last opening statement before construction begins, let’s peek under the hood of our favorite definition tool, the dictionary.  Mine sits here as a real book, several thousand tissue-thin pages thick, bearing the names of Langerscheidt’s Merriam Webster Dictionary (LMWD), all the way back from 1996.  According to LMWD, the definition of hate is: to feel extreme enmity towards, or, to have a strong aversion.

It’s a good start.  But, as we shall soon see, it’s also wrong.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 077

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Three
Chapter Fourteen
Definitions Defined   (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Once this hate play is presented, we’ll discuss it thoroughly in order to get a good perspective on what needs to be understood about hate situations in general, even in one that is as simple as our first play.

That discussion will serve as an outline prototype that will give us a map to follow.  We will be discussing the chief actors in this hate play: Source of hate, Target of hate, and Observer of hate.  There will also be talk of the audience, and in fact there are two types of audiences to be discussed.

Afterward, we will then review the many types of mental states our actors must navigate, such as their intentions, and their actual expressions of hate.  For instance, if the Source only imagines hurting the Target, but we never see that imagined hate manifested into action against the Target, is hate present?  In other words, does a secret desire to do physical or psychological harm to someone else count as hate?  Yes, we must tease apart convoluted issues like these as well if we want a great definition of hate.

We will also discuss another important part of any hate play, the stage and setting.  How hate unfolds around the actors is just as important as the actions themselves, so we will develop tools that will allow us to understand how the actors relate to each other with respect to hate.  This will allow us to better understand how it impacts each of them, and ourselves.

Once we’ve addressed all these elements, each of which represents a new tool we can use to help us define hate, we will then analyze a second hate play.  At this moment I’m not even sure what it will be.  Something modern?  Some incident well known around the world?  Something notorious?

We’ll see.  However, you should be able to read through the second hate play with very different eyes.  For by that time you will be equipped with a new set of hate-discerning tools we will have developed from our first hate play.  These tools will enable you to evaluate all the actors, their mental states, the audience, and the settings in an orderly fashion.

If additional hate plays are needed to aid our understanding, or if we need more examples of how our tools can be used, they will be introduced in this section.
But as of this writing, I have no intentions of including more examples of hate in our world.  As I said above, there are simply too many to choose from.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 076

Hello Curious Friend.  Welcome to my book about Hate.  The number tells you where you are in the sequence.  I look forward to your comments.

Part Three
Chapter Fourteen
Definitions Defined   (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Even here the definition is made negatively.  That is to say, instead of telling us what emotions are directly, Spencer and Darwin tell us what emotions are not.  There is nothing wrong with a negative definition, as it reminds us that our understanding is incomplete.

Summarizing Spencer, all “feelings” come from two sources, emotions or sensations.  The difference between emotions and sensations are that sensations are generated in our corporeal framework.  Subsequently, emotions are all feelings not generated by our bodies; they are “in our minds.”

Of course, Spencer did not have the benefit of microbiology or machines that can watch our minds work, so the line between body and mind was a bit easier for him to draw.  Nonetheless, his definition is still the best we have to work with at the present time.
As I said, sensations are a type of feeling generated by our corporeal framework.  By this definition, eating too much gives way to the feeling and subsequent sensation of indigestion.

On the other hand, emotions are feelings generated outside our corporeal framework.  By this definition, looking at a plate of writhing octopus and being told it’s your dinner will create a feeling, and subsequent emotion, of revulsion.  Unless you like very fresh octopus, of course.

Now that we have a clearer understanding of what an emotion is, we’re in a better position to build a foundation we can build our definition of hate on.  Once we have this rudimentary definition in place, we’re going to put it through its paces.

First, we’ll start with what I call a “hate play.”  This will be a simple scenario exploring the complex relationships exhibiting and expressing hate throughout our society.  Normally this would be an incredibly tall order.  However, it will be easier for us because we’ll start slowly and work up to more complex situations.

The first hate play is going to present an imaginary situation, something that may have occurred thousands of years ago.  The reasons I have chosen to start with something simple from today’s world are these: we must reduce the complexities of our relationships to their most fundamental components to best understand these phenomena, and we must distance ourselves from any possible emotional bias that could sway our impressions.

As I surveyed the possible hate plays that could have been presented, the problem I faced was not an issue of finding a good example.  No, the problem was that they were all appropriate, and numerous.

Not only does recent history provide plenty of examples, the distant past offers exponentially more examples, many of which are well-known and infamous.  Current events are another source I could have drawn from, but most them are tangled up in cultural bias and lack of insight.  The insults and hurt are simply too fresh for most of us to consider them objectively.

So, after much thought, I have decided to abandon all of these readily accessible hate stories for a more simple expression of hate, one that mirrors a situation many of us may have experienced at some point in our lives.

To be continued …