By David Livingstone Smith

ISBN-10: 0312532725

ISBN-13: 9780312532727

Winner of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf e-book Award for Nonfiction

A revelatory examine why we dehumanize one another, with wonderful examples from international heritage in addition to today's headlines

"Brute." "Cockroach." "Lice." "Vermin." "Dog." "Beast." those and different monikers are continually in use to consult different humans—for political, non secular, ethnic, or sexist purposes. humans tend to treat individuals in their personal type as below human. This tendency has made atrocities just like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave alternate attainable, and but we nonetheless locate it in phenomena similar to xenophobia, homophobia, army propaganda, and racism. under Human attracts on a wealthy mixture of heritage, psychology, biology, anthropology and philosophy to rfile the pervasiveness of dehumanization, describe its kinds, and clarify why we so frequently hotel to it.

David Livingstone Smith posits that this habit is rooted in human nature, yet supplies us desire in additionally mentioning that organic characteristics are malleable, displaying us that modify is feasible. under Human is a chilling indictment of our nature, and is as well timed because it is appropriate.

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Additional info for Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others (1st Edition)

Example text

So, what’s the connection between sympathy and justice? First of all, it’s important to understand that when Hume talks about justice, he has quite a narrow purview. He’s concerned with property rights pure and simple, rather than justice in the broader sense of the word. He argues that the demand for justice arises from two facts—one about the world and the other about human nature. The first is that resources are limited: Many of the things that we need and want come in finite quantities, and this makes it impossible for everyone to have as much as they desire or require.

Describing human beings as rats or cockroaches is a symptom of something more powerful and more dangerous—something that’s vitally important for us to understand. It reflects how one thinks about them, and thinking of a person as subhuman isn’t the same as calling them names. Calling people names is an effort to hurt or humiliate them. It’s the use of language as a weapon. But dehumanizing a person involves judging them to be less than human. It’s intended as a description rather than as an attack, and as such is a departure from reality—a form of self-deception.

A surgeon disregards the humanity of the person lying on the operating table. He is interested in the patient as a flesh-and-blood machine in need of repair, not as a human subject, but in doing so he doesn’t think of his patient as less than human. At times it’s said that we dehumanize people by taking a derogatory attitude toward them. But denigrating others falls short of denying their humanity. Often, it involves judging them to be inferior human beings rather than subhuman animals. An inferior human is still human.

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Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others (1st Edition) by David Livingstone Smith


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