Actually, both parts of that conjunction are false: I am far from virtuous, and I probably don’t hate you. (Really I don’t.) But say I were virtuous: what would be the problem with me hating some people? Would feeling hatred toward some individuals detract from my overall moral standing? And forget about poor old un-virtuous me. What about someone who, by all accounts, really was virtuous–Confucius. Would it detract from his moral standing if he hated some people?
In fact, we know that Confucius despised or hated (wu 惡) some people, and that he thought it the mark of a junzi that he, too, would like harbor hatred.
17.24 – Zigong asked, “Does the nobleman have hatred (wu 惡) too?” The Master replied, “He has hatred. Hatred for those who pronounce the bad points of others; hatred for those who remain below while criticizing those above; hatred for those who are bold yet lack propriety; hatred for those who are plucky yet violent.” The Master added, ‘Do you, Zigong, have hatred as well?’ ‘[Yes.] Hatred for those who pass plagiarism for wisdom; hatred for those who pass insolence for courage; hatred for those who pass slander for uprightness.’
Indeed, hatred appears in the oldest stratum of the Analects as a disposition or virtue of moral exemplars. We are told, rather unambiguously, that only morally exemplary individuals (renzhe 仁者) can truly love other people, and truly hate them (4.3).
Nevertheless, the virtue of hatred is seldom discussed in the secondary literature; more prominent are discussions of other virtues, such as being loyal, filial, or sincere. In fact, whenever hatred (wu 惡) is discussed, commentators often seem anxious to bleed hatred of all its emotional content. Consider Tu Wei-ming’s gloss of 4.3:
…. only those of jen know how to love men and how to hate them (4:3), for the feelings of love and hate can be impartially expressed as fitting responses to concrete situations only by those who have reached the highest level of morality. This is predicated on the moral principle that those who sincerely strive to become jen abstain from evil will (or, if you wish, hatred); as a result, they can respond to a value-laden and emotion-charged situation in a disinterested but compassionate manner.
Others (e.g. Yong Huang, Wing-tsit Chan) are similarly reluctant to embrace the straightforward, literal reading of the passage—that a morally exemplary (ren 仁) person really (and properly) hates some people.
What gives? Is it wrong to hate?