Hate and Happiness in Aristotle

In Noell Birondo (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Hate. Lanham and London: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 2-21 (2022)
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Aristotle tells us that in order to develop virtue, one needs to come to love and hate the right sorts of things. However, his description of the virtuous person clearly privileges love to hate. It is love rather than hate that is the main driving force of a good life. It is because of her love of knowledge, truth and beauty that the virtuous person organizes her life in a certain way and pursues these rather than other things (such as pleasure). When hate comes into the picture, it is merely an unavoidable consequence of loving those noble and beautiful things. The virtuous person hates things that are contrary to her values, but does not concentrate on them, much less constructs her life in the pursuit of their destruction. But why privilege love over hate in this way? Why could not a good (happy) and virtuous life be a life driven primarily by hate (in particular, one aimed at eradicating what one (correctly) considers shameful and evil)? Without appealing to any consequences or harmful effects that hate might have on other People, the paper gives two answers to this question. First, allowing hate (rather than love) to dominate one’s life would undermine the right relationship between the two parts of the soul (the rational and the non-rational one) that Aristotle recognizes. Virtue involves establishing the right kind of internal ordering of one’s soul and this cannot be done if one’s soul is dominated by hate. Second, hate has negative cognitive effects insofar as it renders one insensitive to the beauty of human nature and behavior and actively precludes one from acquiring knowledge and understanding. Accordingly, if a good life is a life that involves virtue and knowledge, a life fueled by hate cannot but fall short of that ideal.



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Jozef Müller
University of California, Riverside

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References found in this work

Aristotle on learning to be good.Myles F. Burnyeat - 1980 - In Amélie Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics. University of California Press. pp. 69--92.
Aristotle on the Human Good.Richard KRAUT - 1989 - Ethics 101 (2):382-391.
Aristotle on Desire.Giles Pearson - 2012 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Passions and Persuasion in Aristotle’s Rhetoric.Jamie Dow - 2015 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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