Whether it is immoral to hate inanimate objects


#1

As of now, I am entertaining the idea that it is an immoral act to hate inanimate matter:

  1. Physical matter, insofar as it has being and was created by God, is good. (the existence of inanimate physical matter is not morally neutral, but is inherently good).
  2. Respect and gratefulness for the good things made by God is good.
  3. Hate implies a disrespect or ungratefulness for the good things made by God.
  4. Therefore, it is not good to hate inanimate physical matter itself.

I do, however, think it is just to hate the willed wrong use or wrong intended use of an inanimate object (for example, if a nuclear bomb were to be built with specifications that made it only kill civilians during peace-time, it would be just to hate the supposed evil intentions of the maker of that bomb; or if a fork were to be used a murder weapon, it would be right to hate the use of that fork as a murder weapon. Hatred towards the evil use or evil intended use of an inanimate object may be expressed by the feeling of anger or annoyance towards that inanimate object; I do not know if such anger or annoyance is justified if it is willed.)

Your thoughts? Do you think we have any moral obligations to inanimate objects?


#2

I am not sure what it means to hate an inanimate object. Perhaps you could explain.

If it is immoral, I suspect it is because the hatred originates from errors in one's own way of thinking. For example, you may say that you hate a certain tree because you walked into it while looking the other way. You are mad at yourself for being so careless, but you are incorrectly blaming the tree. To make such an error, I think one must be excessively self-centered.

Hating a weapon is an interesting proposition, since weapons can be used either for offense or defense. Even nuclear weapons, it may be argued, can be held defensively (according to the principle of deterrence).

A knife can be used to prepare food, or to kill.

Similarly, free will empowered by human imagination can be used for good or evil. Should we then hate free will?

(This, my friends, is what happens when amateurs dabble in philosophy... :p)


#3

I've always hated cigarette butts and dirty ashtrays.


#4

[quote="Beryllos, post:2, topic:334564"]
I am not sure what it means to hate an inanimate object. Perhaps you could explain.

If it is immoral, I suspect it is because the hatred originates from errors in one's own way of thinking. For example, you may say that you hate a certain tree because you walked into it while looking the other way. You are mad at yourself for being so careless, but you are incorrectly blaming the tree. To make such an error, I think one must be excessively self-centered.

Hating a weapon is an interesting proposition, since weapons can be used either for offense or defense. Even nuclear weapons, it may be argued, can be held defensively (according to the principle of deterrence).

A knife can be used to prepare food, or to kill.

Similarly, free will empowered by human imagination can be used for good or evil. Should we then hate free will?

(This, my friends, is what happens when amateurs dabble in philosophy... :p)

[/quote]

To hate is 'not to love'. To love, (besides love being God Himself so I don't really know if mere humans (who are not also God) can articulate what exactly that means), at the very least involves willing the good of the other. In this case, the inanimate object is 'the other'.

  1. Something being or existing is inherently good. ("Bad things" are just privations of being, privations of goodness). (Premise)
  2. Something that does not exist cannot have good willed for it (since it does not exist; this would be synonymous with willing good for either a concept of the thing (which is not the same as the thing), or willing good for nothing; willing good for nothing is the same as not willing the good for anything; so something that does not exist cannot have good willed for it.) (Premise)
  3. It appears that there is not any other good for an inanimate object than for it to simply exist. (Premise)
  4. (From the above) Therefore, it appears that the only good to be willed for an inanimate object, which is currently existing, is for it to currently exist.

If not willing the good for something is the same as hating something, then (from 4), not willing an inanimate object to exist, when it does exist, is to hate an inanimate object.

Now, from 2, it can be seen that we don't need to love inanimate objects when they don't exist, so that if God were to cause an object to fall out of existence, there is an instant in which it does exist, and in which God sustains its existence and loves the object (a part of His Creation), and another instant in which God does not sustain its existence, but does not 'hate' the object since the object doesn't exist (it is no thing). Thus, God does not hate inanimate objects when He causes them to fall out of existence.

So, if what I am saying above is correct (and that's a big IF), when we actively work for an inanimate object's destruction (let's say we're destroying an enemy bunker in WW2), it would be apparently immoral to will the bunker to not exist when in fact it does exist, but it would not apparently be immoral to will the bunker to exist when it does exist, and will the bunker to not exist after you have caused a change (by blowing it up) so that it no longer exists. To be consistent with the contention of this argument, the morally correct thing for the soldier blowing up an enemy bunker to think with regards to the bunker is, "I will this bunker to exist so long as it does in fact exist, yet I further will my actions in blowing up the bunker to bring about a change such that at some future point the bunker does not exist, and at that point, when the bunker does not exist, I will the bunker (which is now nothing) to not exist".

While not hating inanimate objects seems intuitive to me, thinking it immoral to will an inanimate object to not exist when it does exist does not seem intuitive to me, although I can kinda get it, since we would be willing a fact contrary to the truth, something contrary to the real world; we would be willing a falsehood. (Willing that x not exist when it does exist).

That's just my opinion on this though...I really don't know what is right on this matter and what the Church's teachings are regarding our moral relationship to inanimate objects, except that we be "good stewards" and so forth.


#5

I still cannot make sense of your posts. I understand "love" and "hate" of persons, but not of inanimate objects. It might be worth reviewing a few points from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

God creates an ordered and good world

299 Because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: “You have arranged all things by measure and number and weight.” The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the “image of the invisible God,” is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the “image of God” and called to a personal relationship with God. Our human understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the Creator and his work. Because creation comes forth from God’s goodness, it shares in that goodness — “And God saw that it was good... very good”—for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world.

Providence and secondary causes

307 To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it. God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers, and their sufferings. They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.

2402 In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits...

Respect for the integrity of creation

2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.

Good luck in your inquiries, and God Bless you.


#6

I had a van I hated. It guzzled gas and was rear wheel drive so it slid all over the road in the snow. Hated that thing with a passionate loathing.

I'm certain God did not mind. In fact, He eventually he answered my prayer and I was able to get a more efficient, safer vehicle.

I think God hated that van too. :thumbsup:


#7

Thank you for your quotes from the Catechism! I think the last one in your post is especially relevant; maintaining a respect for the integrity of creation. Since I think hating an inanimate object would include disrespecting the inanimate object as a part of the integrity of creation, it follows that hating an inanimate object is immoral.

And Yellowbird, I think you were more frustrated with the van’s lacking what qualities you expected it to have, than the van itself. Hating a lack is not the same as hating a thing, because a lack is a lack of a thing (and so, it is not a really existing thing). I think a hatred of the van itself would be rather unreasonable and, if my reasoning above is correct, immoral; but frustration with the van’s lackings seems expected.

I can just imagine one of those commercials, playing sad music, and asking for charity to help keep animals from suffering; except in this commercial, it is sincerely asking that everyone refrain from hating the poor, defenseless inanimate objects around them. :slight_smile:


#8

I hate guns.

When inanimate objects become a form of false worship, such as the Golden Calf in the desert, they are to be despised. Better to grind them into fine dust and make the worshipers drink it.


#9

I don't respect mold and mildew. I despise them.
Though a few months ago I did briefly have some awe about a ziplock container of something unidentifiable, in the back of the fridge -- but it was only brief awe. Then I despised it.

But truly, aren't we human creatures tasked to be stewards of all the earth's resources? We don't have to love or hate them -- if they can be used for purposes of caring for ourselves and/or others, that's not loving those things, that's loving God's human creations.


#10

[quote="Robert_Sock, post:8, topic:334564"]
I hate guns.

When inanimate objects become a form of false worship, such as the Golden Calf in the desert, they are to be despised. Better to grind them into fine dust and make the worshipers drink it.

[/quote]

It is not the gun's fault it is used for a murder, and it is not a golden calf's fault that it is worshiped. Anger directed towards the object might be a result of hatred for the immoral intended use of the object. When inanimate objects are falsely worshiped, it might be best to remove or destroy them, and it might be natural to feel anger at them, but this need not mean a hatred for the object, but rather a hatred for its misuse.


#11

[quote="Birdmanman, post:10, topic:334564"]
It is not the gun's fault it is used for a murder, and it is not a golden calf's fault that it is worshiped. Anger directed towards the object might be a result of hatred for the immoral intended use of the object. When inanimate objects are falsely worshiped, it might be best to remove or destroy them, and it might be natural to feel anger at them, but this need not mean a hatred for the object, but rather a hatred for its misuse.

[/quote]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be anthropomorphizing the inanimate objects by attributing that they are not at 'fault.' The bottom line is that because certain inanimate objects are used for evil, they ought to be despised and ground into dust. Would you say that God and Moses were in error to despise the Golden Calf?


#12

[quote="Robert_Sock, post:11, topic:334564"]
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be anthropomorphizing the inanimate objects by attributing that they are not at 'fault.' The bottom line is that because certain inanimate objects are used for evil, they ought to be despised and ground into dust. Would you say that God and Moses were in error to despise the Golden Calf?

[/quote]

Thanks for discussing this so far! :)
What I was using was a kind of figurative anthropomorphism, and of course objects themselves are not blameworthy in a moral sense (although they can be causes of evil things). Do you not consider the golden calf, the matter at least, a part of God's creation, and so requiring respect insofar as it is a part of God's creation? This does not mean that we can't grind it up, and indeed we should if it increases our likelihood of or ease in sinning, and we should will to destroy it if it is being used as an idol.

But the matter itself, even in the form of a gold calf, or nuclear missile, is not evil, and I would say it is inherently good at least insofar as it has existence. It is the bad intentions of the creator of the calf or missile, or the bad intentions of those worshiping the calf or launching the missile, or the evil that we see being made easier because of the calf or missile's existence in the form of a calf or missile, or the evil results of the matter's existence and subsequent misuse, that we consider bad, not the calf or missile itself. Or perhaps it is what the matter symbolizes in that form (the golden calf representing a false god), and it is the meaning behind that symbol that should be hated, at least where that meaning is a falsehood.

For example; let us say we have a page of a book in one room, and a golden calf in another. On the page of the book in the one room are written the words "The calf god is real and will bring us out of the desert, as opposed to Yahweh"; these words are symbols that represent a meaning that is false. Something false should be hated insofar as it is false, as it is not a part of the truth, and does not have being. If we have a literate ancient Israelite, who sees the words on the page, and then sees the golden calf, and tells us "these two mean the same thing", then the golden calf, like the words on the page, has become a symbol of a falsehood. The symbol might have a new meaning assigned to it, but that isn't as easy as destroying the symbol, which is the better option in the case of the golden calf (and in the case of any idol).

*.

Please note, my objection is to the idea that there was a circumstance where hating inanimate objects was a good action. Despising, at least from a google search, seems to be a more emotional state than an act or will, so if by despising we mean 'feeling strong anger or frustration towards', I do not think we are unjustified in at least sometimes despising inanimate objects (if despising does not mean hating, and can coexist with respecting the object).

I can be wrong in what I say above, and please correct me if I am in any way contradicting Church teaching on this matter. I am attempting to follow Church teaching, as the Catechism states we should "respect the integrity of creation", and that there is a "goodness of creation", and I do not see why this respect or goodness would exclude inanimate objects.*


#13

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.