Sunday, March 19, 2006

Love, Hate, Fear, and Indifference

I've been doing some thinking of late about the nature of love. I've already posted some preliminary thoughts about what ideal or perfect love would look like here. In this post I'd like to approach the topic from a different angle, by contrasting love with three of its 'opposites', namely, hate, fear, and indifference.

In brief, here's how I size up the similarities and differences between these four notions:

1. Love, hate, and fear contrast with indifference in that they are all modes of concern with regard to some object. Indifference is simply a lack of concern.

2. Love contrasts with both hate and fear in that love is a positive mode of concern in that it desires and actively pursues the good of its object. Hate and fear, by contrast, are negative modes of concern. Hate desires and, given the chance, actively pursues the harm or destruction of its object. Fear desires and strives to bring about the absence of its object, often by running away.

3. Hate contrasts with fear in that hate is directed toward its object, going on the offensive, so to speak, whereas fear is directed away from its object, going on the defensive, so to speak.

4. Given the above, love, hate, fear, and indifference are contraries to each other. One cannot love something and at the same time and in the same respect either hate, fear, or be indifferent toward it. Mutatis mutandis for hate, fear, and indifference.

Now, here's an interesting question. Which of these - hate, fear, or indifference - is most opposite to love? Or are all equally opposite, but in different respects?


At 3/22/2006 12:03 PM, Blogger Doug Rigby said...

Given the above referenced definition of perfect love of one individual (A) for another (B) as a maximal positive mode of concern, it seems the most opposite of perfect love is hatred as a maximal negative mode of concern of A for B. Perfect hatred entails A’s desire of evil wished on B coupled with A actively and continually pursuing evil (inflicting pain and suffering) on B to the extent A can.

Perhaps hatred is the most opposite of love because they lie on opposite ends of the same spectrum of emotional caring or concern (active loving or active evildoing). Indifference as the absence of any caring or concern seems to lie in the middle of this spectrum through a fading of desire and the will to love or hate. Fear is something different in that it is B that causes his own estrangement from A, limiting A’s ability to show love or hate, or learn of A’s indifference.

Perfect love implies a perfect relationship where both parties perfectly love each other. Hate, indifference, and fear will effectively prevent a perfect relationship, but perfect hatred seems to be most logically opposite notion to perfect love.

Either A’s hatred or indifference could be extremely difficult for B to bear if B desired a loving relationship with A. In the short term, hatred may be worse to bear until it ended in a tortured death of body and belief of the potential of love in the mind. In the long term, the loneliness of indifference may be the more difficult to bear as the seeds of hope never actually germinate. If B is indifferent to A, then A’s indifference wouldn’t matter.

Concerning theistic religion, perfect love and relationship is the eternal relationship between God and B fully realized in heaven. But God loves differently than B loves so there would be some asymmetry in the relationship. Hell could be either: (1) B experiencing eternal, active, painful suffering, or (2) B’s permanent estrangement from any love and concern (that of God and other A subjects). I don’t know which would be worse.

At 3/26/2006 5:50 PM, Blogger C Grace said...

"Hell could be either: (1) B experiencing eternal, active, painful suffering,"

If God is love then can (1) be the case? In other words for God to actively cause someone to suffer would be hate. But can God both hate and love someone?

At 3/26/2006 6:22 PM, Blogger C Grace said...

Here's a thought.

If love is the maximal mode of concern, then love must be concern for the other with no thought to ourselves. However, for any being that is not self-sufficient this type of love is impossible. If I fail to love myself in loving another then I may die, in which case my love dies with me, in which case it is no longer the maximal good for the other.

Natural human love is not sufficient for loving God because it cannot escape its own need, but God Himself by the very nature of His Love demands a love that is complete. We are commanded to love Him with all that we are, no holding back. This is why we must love God with the love which He gives us (Rom 5:5) A perfect God is demands a perfect love -there is no asymetry in the relationship. Not in kind anyway - in degree yes.

At 12/06/2008 9:09 AM, Blogger Timo437 said...

If Love is being in a state of having a relationship with an entity, then Indifference would be its opposite, for it implies the absence of a relationship.

From my experiences, hatred is more acceptable as an emotion than indifference. Indifference is more offensive than hatred, or fear inducing action.

Consider that the natural state of humanity is to be in a community, one built on emotional ties, be it love, hate or fear. Indifference then is a more of an opposite to any state of emotion, as it implies the rejection of community.

Love and hate are both strong emotions, thus quite similar. Indifference however is the absence of emotion, and very opposite.

People with love or hate or fear for an entity have a more difficult time interacting with indifference from that entity.

Just try it on someone, be it a loved one, or a police officer trying to use fear to drive action. Responding with total indifference will be more offensive to them then any other action.


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