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3 J. Hate Stud. 121 (2003-2004)
Our Ancestral Shadow: Hate and Human Nature in Evolutionary Psychology

handle is hein.journals/jnlhtst3 and id is 126 raw text is: Our Ancestral Shadow: Hate and Human Nature in
Evolutionary Psychology
James E. Waller
Whitworth College jwaller@whitworth.edu
Paper presented at the Conference to Establish the Field of Hate Studies,
Spokane, WA, March 19, 2004.
In some unique ways, each of us is like no other human being. In other
ways, each of us is like some other human beings. And, in yet some other
ways, each of us is like all other human beings. The question of the nature of
human nature is captured in this final statement. In what ways are we like
every other person that has gone before us and will come after us? This ques-
tion is particularly relevant to the emerging field of hate studies. Is there an
endowment with which each of us begins our life that is important in under-
standing how, and why, people hate?
Many philosophers, social thinkers, and psychologists assume that human
nature is intrinsically neutral and has no predisposing inclinations. In this view,
we are a blank slate, virtually free of content until written on by the hand of
experience. Others more optimistically maintain that our basic predisposition
is toward goodness. Still others argue for a more pessimistic conception of
humans as essentially evil, dangerous, or impulse-ridden-a recognition of our
basic natural proclivity to turn ugly. Finally, many thinkers maintain the exis-
tence of both good and evil inclinations in humankind and focus on the eternal
struggle between these two universal aspects of human nature.
How do modern social scientists respond to the question of the nature of
human nature? Most are hesitant to engage the topic directly. There is some-
thing too personal and subjective about it that makes it seem out of bounds. It
is mistakenly assumed to be a question of metaphysics that cannot be addressed
using the methodology of the social sciences. In reality, though, all social
scientists have, and regularly employ, conceptions of human nature. It is pre-
cisely these underlying assumptions that must be faced as we begin to establish
the interdisciplinary field of hate studies.
Rene Descartes, the noted French philosopher and mathematician of the
seventeenth century, argued that humans alone are capable of rational thought

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