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What Is Hate?

St. Augustine tells us that all sin is disordered love. Socrates had a more basic approach to this question. He said that no man seeks what is bad because he thinks it is bad. He seeks it only because he thinks it to be good. It is his nature and his habits that are disordered. People, even nature itself, are fallen. Bent. Distorted.

St. Thomas Aquinas goes further, explaining that hatred is caused by something that which is the deprivation of good, that is, by an evil. Is caused by something that hinders us from attaining a good. It would seem, though, that hatred itself can be a hindrance to achieving a good. It can be that evil which deprives us of good.

What could we possibly love, even in a distorted way, that would attract us to hatred?

To continue the parade of philosophers, I’m reminded of Aristotle’s definition of anger. He says that anger is a pain caused by a real or apparent slight, accompanied by a pleasure at the thought of potential revenge. He brilliantly accounts for that self- lacerating joy we experience when we embrace wrath. We love the rush of it all: the fist- clinching self-righteousness, the clear-eyed vehemence, the puff and bluster that leaves us victorious and alone.

As with all evil, hatred is ultimately self-destructive.


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