The Problem of Spite
Philosophy senior thesis
Spite is one of the most negative emotions. It ranges from the ruthless, malicious, and enormously destructive, to the trivial and seemingly harmless. Yet all spiteful acts seem to lack rational justification and to be preoccupied solely with the intent to harm—even at the risk of harm to oneself. To rid ourselves of this nasty emotion, I propose a solution which involves the elimination of the deep underlying causes that root spite within us. Drawing upon the emotion theories of Robert Solomon and Max Scheler, this thesis describes spite as an emotion, analyses what is wrong with spite, and proposes what needs to be done about spite. I argue that while spite may be an inherent human trait, it is a dysfunctional emotion that serves no conceivable good and only incites damage.