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Why Maliciousness reflects Ignorance

August 15, 2017 by Armin A. Zadeh

Our brain is complicated in many ways, but then again quite simple in others. Our motivation for thoughts or action is largely driven by a handful of impulses. Most obviously, we are looking for food when we perceive the sensation of hunger or for water when we feel thirsty. When we are antagonistic towards others, our impulses are similarly primal, such as the drive for power, aggression, and status. Our brain rewards satisfying these impulses with a release of hormones, which make us feel good. However, their effect is brief. Even if we are successful in reaching a position of power, our satisfaction is quickly reversed by a desire for even greater power and—at the same time—the anxiety for losing power.

Conversely, if we resist egotistic impulses and focus on benevolence, our brain rewards us with lasting contentment. It turns out that being good has an evolutionary advantage over being bad.

Many wise people figured out for themselves that it is not worth engaging in activities to demean others—one always pays the price of one’s own happiness. It is actually smart to be kind (and dumb to be mean) because we work in sync with our biology.

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