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Thread: What is hatred, how did it evolve, what is it's purpose?

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    What is hatred, how did it evolve, what is it's purpose?

    This is a question that I don't have any answers for, but where I'm curious about the perspective and insight of others. The questions are as follows -

    - what exactly is the definition of hatred?
    - why did hatred evolve as a psychological trait that exists in humans?
    - what problem of ours does it solve?

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Hatred is the amygdala in action, phrased in abstraction so people feel that it is contextualized. All animals with a complex neural anatomy have a panic condition leading to aggression and/or avoidance, which generally keeps them safe in natural environments, and we are no different in basic configuration, only in the very complex lattice that has formed around our own fight or flight response.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    This is a question that I don't have any answers for, but where I'm curious about the perspective and insight of others. The questions are as follows -

    - what exactly is the definition of hatred?
    You need to tell us. Unless you want a dictionary definition (in which case your go-to resource should be a dictionary, not the TFR forums), you should be providing an operational definition in light of which you want your other questions addressed as the very first thing. If you leave that definition to others, you risk that every response talks about a different phenomenon.

    - why did hatred evolve as a psychological trait that exists in humans?
    It almost certainly didn't, not the way you appear to imagine. Depending on what it is you want to talk about, the answer is probably "it's inherited from some early reptilian/amphibian ancestor and hasn't really changed since", or possibly the effect of some post-hoc rationalization of such, but not an independent trait that's in any way typical for humans. Also, though I'm no expert endocrinologist, I believe it's not sharply delineated from other negative emotions (fear, disgust) in terms of the physiological reactions involved, so calling it a unique "psychological trait" as though meaningfully separable from those is probably not tenable.

    - what problem of ours does it solve?
    Am I getting crazy or did you edit your post? I could have sworn it said "purpose" there just minutes ago. I guess that was in the title instead. Teleology at its best.

    Anyway, traits don't exist to solve a problem, they persist because they make it statistically more likely for its bearer to survive. They can do so in roundabout ways, or despite nearly as often killing you. Phrasing evolutionary questions in engineering terms is severely misleading more often than not.
    Last edited by Jokodo; 03-09-2020 at 06:46 PM.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Traits persist if they don't make it sufficiently less likely for those that exhibit them to reproduce.

    If there's no easy mechanism whereby a more successful sub-population could arise that is free of a given trait, then it will persost even if harmful - that's probably why we don't see a large population of humans born without an appendix.

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    Here's a paper about the physiology of hatred, though not sure if that's maybe too narrow compared to what you want discussed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2569212/

    In general, it's always a good idea to clarify what it is you want to discuss and what we're actually know about it's "implementation" before asking the how and why questions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Traits persist if they don't make it sufficiently less likely for those that exhibit them to reproduce.

    If there's no easy mechanism whereby a more successful sub-population could arise that is free of a given trait, then it will persost even if harmful - that's probably why we don't see a large population of humans born without an appendix.
    Indeed.

    Also, what is a trait even? Not everything we have a nice little label for is a coherent entity from a genetic and/ or developmental perspective, and "hatred" is probably a good candidate for something that isn't. It's, best as I can tell, a region in the continuum of fight and flight responses without clear boundaries or an independent history.
    Last edited by Jokodo; 03-09-2020 at 09:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post

    You need to tell us. Unless you want a dictionary definition (in which case your go-to resource should be a dictionary, not the TFR forums), you should be providing an operational definition in light of which you want your other questions addressed as the very first thing. If you leave that definition to others, you risk that every response talks about a different phenomenon.



    It almost certainly didn't, not the way you appear to imagine. Depending on what it is you want to talk about, the answer is probably "it's inherited from some early reptilian/amphibian ancestor and hasn't really changed since", or possibly the effect of some post-hoc rationalization of such, but not an independent trait that's in any way typical for humans. Also, though I'm no expert endocrinologist, I believe it's not sharply delineated from other negative emotions (fear, disgust) in terms of the physiological reactions involved, so calling it a unique "psychological trait" as though meaningfully separable from those is probably not tenable.

    - what problem of ours does it solve?
    Am I getting crazy or did you edit your post? I could have sworn it said "purpose" there just minutes ago. I guess that was in the title instead. Teleology at its best.

    Anyway, traits don't exist to solve a problem, they persist because they make it statistically more likely for its bearer to survive. They can do so in roundabout ways, or despite nearly as often killing you. Phrasing evolutionary questions in engineering terms is severely misleading more often than not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Here's a paper about the physiology of hatred, though not sure if that's maybe too narrow compared to what you want discussed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2569212/

    In general, it's always a good idea to clarify what it is you want to discuss and what we're actually know about it's "implementation" before asking the how and why questions.
    In this case I intentionally avoided including a definition so as to not frame the conversation in a certain way. Because I'm more interested in a multitude of perspectives toward the end of a clear definition, rather than giving one that might be false from the outset.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Traits persist if they don't make it sufficiently less likely for those that exhibit them to reproduce.

    If there's no easy mechanism whereby a more successful sub-population could arise that is free of a given trait, then it will persost even if harmful - that's probably why we don't see a large population of humans born without an appendix.
    So you'd claim that this is true of our propensity for hatred then? It's never a useful quality for those who hold it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Here's a paper about the physiology of hatred, though not sure if that's maybe too narrow compared to what you want discussed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2569212/

    In general, it's always a good idea to clarify what it is you want to discuss and what we're actually know about it's "implementation" before asking the how and why questions.
    In this case I intentionally avoided including a definition so as to not frame the conversation in a certain way. Because I'm more interested in a multitude of perspectives toward the end of a clear definition, rather than giving one that might be false from the outset.
    Definitions aren't true or false, they are at best useful or useless - and a precondition to have a meaningful conversation.
    Last edited by Jokodo; 03-09-2020 at 10:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Here's a paper about the physiology of hatred, though not sure if that's maybe too narrow compared to what you want discussed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2569212/

    In general, it's always a good idea to clarify what it is you want to discuss and what we're actually know about it's "implementation" before asking the how and why questions.
    In this case I intentionally avoided including a definition so as to not frame the conversation in a certain way. Because I'm more interested in a multitude of perspectives toward the end of a clear definition, rather than giving one that might be false from the outset.
    Definitions aren't true or false, they are at best useful or useless - and a precondition to have a meaningful conversation.
    I agree, that's why I'm inviting the definition from others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Hatred is the amygdala in action, phrased in abstraction so people feel that it is contextualized. All animals with a complex neural anatomy have a panic condition leading to aggression and/or avoidance, which generally keeps them safe in natural environments, and we are no different in basic configuration, only in the very complex lattice that has formed around our own fight or flight response.
    ^^ that might be a good start.

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