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Why do we hate? Presumably all emotions serve a purpose. What is the purpose of hate?

It is clear why some emotions exist. Fear, for example, serves to keep us safe from things we deem harmful. Anger, within reason, is a reaction to something we find objectionable and that helps us to learn to interact with others and also to protect ourselves.

Hate and love are opposite ends of the same scale, so the question could also be "Why do we love?" That seems to be easier to answer, however. It appears that love is the ultimate objective - the highest level of human development.

So then why do we hate? What purpose does it serve? Is it because of our own insecurities? Do we need to feel superior? Is the ego the hatemonger in us?

Could it be that our propensity to hate (or conversely, love) is a measure of our spiritual development?

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      Mar 16 2011: Its bit outta context but you look like Feynman! seriously!
    • Mar 16 2011: Hi Pabitra, I like your assessment. I think that if we are able to adjust our belief systems, then maybe we can make some headway. I like to think of it this way - we are all cut from the same piece of fabric. The fabric has many colours and patterns, but it is all one piece. If one persons damages another, the entire fabric is damaged, even if only in a small way. The more damage we do to each other, the more damage the fabric suffers. In this context, we all suffer from each others actions.

      Certain belief systems also entertain the idea that through re-incarnation, we each cycle through different races, religions and so on. So that in hating one race or religion for example, we simply hate that which we will be at some point. Whether or not one accepts such beliefs, it is an interesting way of looking at it.
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        • Mar 17 2011: Pabitra, I like your outlook. I agree that it makes no sense but it is very pervasive in most, if not all, societies and as far as I can tell, serves no constructive purpose.
  • Mar 15 2011: I believe –Hate-, and many other human emotions & characteristics are wired into us, predating history, predating tribes, and even predating being human.

    When Barbara Baboon and friends wanted/needed to go to the waterhole, but Sammy Sabertooth was monopolizing the beach, it was an evolutionary advantage to –Hate- Sammy Sabertooth. Perhaps it helped Barbara & Co. bond and work together to distract, annoy and persecute Sammy so that he would withdraw, allowing Barbara to access the water without being killed and eaten.

    I believe this is the origin the human propensity to divide the world into ‘us’ & ‘them’. We are intelligent beings (some of us anyway) trapped in animal bodies.
    • Mar 15 2011: Hi Vincine. thanks for the mental illustration - it is very effective. Rhetorically, I wonder if only time and evolution will get us past this primal stage.
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    Mar 15 2011: I think hate is achieved when our cognitive processes are overloaded by negative stimuli. When the aversion, rejection and fear reach 'tilt' it is generalized into this unresolvable knot that we know as hatred.
    • Mar 15 2011: Thanks Debra. I can understand the overload perspective - this leads to frustration and I suppose hatred for whatever may have caused the overload. There is a lot of hatred all around us - not by persons in dire situations or persons who are struggling with their material lives. Perhaps they hate others because of their own insecurities. I just wonder how this emotion was meant to help us to develop as human beings and perhaps how we can move past it. Thanks for your thoughts.
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        Mar 15 2011: The only purpose of hate that I can think of is that it shuts down all cognition and simply leaves reaction - hatred revs up the system for fight or flight. Perhaps it is a survival mechanism in that if we continue to think in the presence of a saber tooth tiger or a cannibalistic tribe we might win the Darwin award.
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    Mar 14 2011: Hate is not the opposite of love. Love may not be present at all and you have only apathy
    • Mar 14 2011: Hi Helen, thanks for your comment. Could you expand on this a bit more, please? I am aware that persons with some personality disorders are not capable of feeling love for another person. Are these the cases to which you refer? In general, do you have any thoughts about what purpose hatred serves humanity?
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    Mar 14 2011: There are two component to life or in simple words two forces albeit good and evil

    GOod force teaches us to choose love in every dimension

    Evil aka ego teaches us to rule and possess things which creates a power clash, hate follows

    I hope you found my answer convincing
    Lots of love
    • Mar 14 2011: Thanks Tanay. In the context of its value to humanity, do you have any ideas on how this is supposed to benefit humanity. Is hatred supposed to help our development somehow?
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        Mar 15 2011: Dear Julie,
        Hatred emerges due to two reasons
        A) We really really dont like someone/something
        for ex: I hate smoking, drinking, lust and meaningless talk
        B) Object of hatred causes us insecurity
        for ex: I hate Samuel because he overpowers me in almost everything.

        (A) emerges due to our natural inclination and which is quite normal and natural. This type of hatred helps us to distinguish between good and bad at pole!
        BUT>>>>>>(B) is completely useless and cause pain to the possessor.

        Now its on us ti distinguish between two types of hatred and use them constructively.

        Keep Asking keep exploring
        Have a great day!
  • Mar 17 2011: "The existence of something is dependent on the existence of all its parts. As for non-existence, since it occurs though non-existence of one part, a weak man supports destruction in order to demonstrate his power; he acts negatively instead of positively"( aphorism)
    • Mar 18 2011: Hi Whylife. I agree. I think that a lot of hate comes from a feeling of lack of control, weakness, insecurities It arises from an ego not confident in its own self. Hence the need to denigrate the others in order to feel superior or in control. Thanks for sharing.
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    • Mar 16 2011: Hi Syd .. but why hate? Is it not possible to acknowledge, be aware, accept and take appropriate action. For example, if I know that there are malicious people around me, I'll say what I think, explain why I do not want to interact with them, wish them well and move on. If I have to interact, I do so professionally but am at peace with myself. Is this reasonable?
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    Mar 15 2011: I used to see a natural therapist, and she said of all the emotions/feelings we go through, the only one that has no connection to a body function is fear. As in fear shouldn't exist because it cannot be located to a specific area in the body. I found that very cool! And to expand a bit on that, primal fear that signals danger is probably explainable. Fear of not being good enough or other kinds of more internal fears aren't.

    Wasn't there a tedtalk on how the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference? It must have been my acting teacher who said that and he was right: in the realm of self-expression, hate is synonym to love and passion.

    I think we hate because we cannot love everything, and we need that passion, energy, focus, and it can't always be positive. Hate can and is a good thing (in my humble opinion). Not a very positive state, true, but it makes you take action, fuels you and gives you a purpose.
    • Mar 15 2011: Hi Codruta. Fear of failure or rejection can be very debilitation, that is certainly true. I agree that we cannot love everything with great passion - that would take a lot of energy - but I think we can accept or not judge some things.

      When I wrote this I was thinking about how we (as humans in general) hate people for simple reasons - they are of a different race, religion, and so on. Hate to the point of wanting to hurt others. Why does this happen? Is it that we feel threatened or are insecure and need to feel superior to someone else. How does this help us to develop? How do we get to a more elevated existence? These are my musings - not questions I am asking of you :-). Thanks for your input.
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        Mar 16 2011: I'll answer anyway.

        I think it's a basic preservation reaction - we hate people that are against our opinions, or that we think are against them. We hate someone we don't identify with because we cling to that identity we created to ourselves and cannot see the other side. However, we always do this - every single one of us, we always want to be right (I actually started a topic on that a while ago).

        I also think ''development'' as you call it arrives when we are proven wrong. It's mostly always a good thing, even if not a good experience. It makes us broaden our views. I'm sure deep down we can associate this need to hate or to be right with some kind of evolutionary thing - need to preserve? protect from other species? danger?

        And you can always get a more elevated experience by working with yourself. Even hate is a matter of perception... that being said you cannot force a deep kind of change on people, you just need to inspire them.
        • Mar 16 2011: Thanks Codruta. I think the real problem arises when it is taken to the point of wanting to hurt someone else, particularly through physical action. Over the millenia, millions have been killed in the name of race, ethnicity, religion and many other perceived differences. It continues today and I wonder what motivates such hate. What is the difference between those who hate so intensely and those who do not.