Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Stikkers, Kenneth


Hating is an activity which can be useful to human endeavors. This study is a Pragmatic inquiry, and, as such, attempts to answer the question: What difference can our hating make to our projects, goals, and aspirations? We treat hate as an emotion, bracketed from any moral or ethical concerns, which might cloud a philosophical investigation. At the very least, the difficulty in choosing only one ethical or moral perspective from which to examine the usefulness of hate is inconsistent with Pragmatism's pluralism. Through exploring the writings of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, we find hate to be a strong, problematic emotion. Central to Nietzsche's philosophical corpus, hate is something felt by weak people who seek to discharge this emotion, in acts of revenge, onto stronger people - but who cannot because of their very weakness. The impotence to discharge this hate turns into ressentiment, a general hate for the world at large, on the order of rank which places the hater at the bottom and the hated at the top. Nietzsche claims that weak people of ressentiment joined together in an effort to overturn the natural order, and they created a new order where meekness and humility are virtues and where pride and strength are "wrong." This new order of values is the Christian Church, according to Nietzsche. There are solutions to the problem of hating that we find in Nietzsche's writings. The first is to hate the right enemies, that is, to hate stronger enemies. When we struggle against people who are stronger than we are, one of two outcomes are possible. We are either destroyed, or made stronger. Ergo, one way in which hate might be useful for Nietzsche is for us to hate stronger people and become stronger as a result of this struggle. This is understood in the context of the will to power, which Nietzsche claims is all life itself. The will to power wills one thing: power. For Nietzsche, an increased feeling of power brings with it an increased feeling of life. One might posit the equation: more power = more life. Nietzsche's other solution is also rooted in the will to power and is something of which we find the seeds in Concord, in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nietzsche writes about something he calls sublimation. Sublimation begins when we repress an emotion and prevent its discharge. For Nietzsche, emotions exhibit a type of energy, which is expended when the emotion is discharged. He advocates that we repress some emotions in order to retain the energy and then use our rational faculties to discharge them in such a way that we thereby increase our power. This type of self-control and employment of the emotions would amount to actually using our hate to increase our power and, as such, to increase our feeling of life. William James, another thinker who was influenced by Emerson, presents us with something similar in his writings on energy and in "The Moral Equivalent of War." He claims that there are energies that enable us to act into which we can tap by means of some stimulus or act of the will - much the way that marathoners experience a second wind when they apprehend that they might overtake the lead runner. James works with the example of war, wherein a nation is able to achieve certain "manly virtues," such as strength, courage, and solidarity. He seeks some way for us to obtain the benefits of war without military conflict. In short, James claims that we can harness the energy from some stimulus and redirect this energy onto some object or toward some goal which we freely choose. To be sure, this is different from Nietzsche's sublimation precisely because of James' belief in free will. James' redirection of energies enables us not only to choose our goals - which for Nietzsche are always power - but also to choose the manner in which we will discharge this energy. There are instances wherein our hating is not something we would want to sublimate or redirect. When we hate the "correct" object, we should hate. The correct object of our hate is, in short, whatever stands in the way of our projects and goals. We examine Batman Begins and V for Vendetta, both recent films wherein the lead characters hate those who destroy their societies. Batman hates the criminals who infect Gotham City, but he lacks the conviction to do what is necessary and destroy them, since he is fettered by his own moral code, which he values more highly than the destruction of his enemies who stand in the way of the peaceful society for which he longs. V, on the other hand, has no such moral scruples. He successfully destroys his enemies (the corrupt state itself) by the end of his story, illustrating along the way Nietzsche's sublimation in his decades-long revenge and redemption.




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