How and Why We DEHUMANIZE Others...and love doing it.

 

Humans love to DEHUMANIZED others.  It's a necessary step to slaughtering them.   Our brain architecture makes it inevitable, yes, inevitable.   In good times we're fine.  On a bad day, we massacre em all, they are after all, vermin, dogs, rats, swine.

Well, here is the answer in Less Than Human, Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others by David L. Smith, Ph.d.

 

There will be a quiz.  You can take it to find out if you are really a little

George Wallace (racist),

Mel Gibson (anti-Semite),

Joe McCarthy (anticommunist),

Ted Bundy (misogynist),

Jan Brewer (anti-immigrant)

J. Edgar Hoover (homophobe, racist and anticommunist)

or just Rush Limbaugh (dumb-ass.)

 

 

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  • A former member
    A former member

    I don't give 5 stars unless the moderator joins us for lunch.

    September 10, 2012

  • Garry

    A broad spectrum of ideas presented by approx. a dozen participants.
    Everyone had a chance to speak. If someone was continuously silent, the facilitator
    skillfully observed -- and then tactfully invited that shy person to share thoughts.

    September 10, 2012

  • Marky

    I seldom read fiction, but remember a stunning novel (translated from Danish) titled _The Exception_, featuring four women working in a Copenhagen office for genocide studies who form alliances and enmities based on their emerging fears and suspicions when something goes amiss. http://www.amazon.com/The-Exception-Novel-Christian-Jungersen/dp/0385516290

    When things don't go well in life, people tend to blame outside circumstances instead of looking within or attempting a rational analysis. Of course we can't do anything about weather or entropy -- so it's easier to make the "circumstance" a person (or group of people). Then we can once again experience ourselves as powerful by becoming vigilantes for justice. No dehumanizer thinks of himself/herself as evil, but rather as a champion in the service of making things "right" again.

    Dehumanization is simply the projection of our own unrecognized humanity in its shadow aspect. And deep introspection is an antidote for this malaise.

    1 · September 8, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Some people do tend to blame themselves first, and that's not any healthier than blaming others. Part of the problem is blame itself, which is sticky and can be crippling whichever direction it goes in. Better to think in terms of responsibility. No matter how many times one may have faltered and failed, one can always begin fresh and start doing the responsible thing.

      September 9, 2012

    • Marky

      Indeed~~ I meant introspection as a form of accountability, not coal-heaping upon the head. :~)

      September 9, 2012

  • Christopher G.

    Interesting topic. In order to dehumanize others I must first feel superior to them. I must believe I am more deserving, one of the elect, part of an exalted group, a master race, a chosen people etc.. So we also have to look at the other side of the equation, how do we make ourselves feel superior to others?

    1 · August 31, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      I don't think so, actually. That's part of our natural human nature, but another part of our natural human nature is instinctively altruistic. We can cultivate either side.

      September 9, 2012

    • Marky

      Read E.O. Wilson on natural selection AND group selection. Neither Darwin's dog-eat-dog nor the totally altruistic hive mentality fits our method of functioning. We're a blend of both.

      September 9, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Laughing too hard to answer any of the questions on the quiz.

    September 8, 2012

  • Ryan S.

    Its a pretty clear pattern in history. Competing groups perpetuate and rationalize their hostility by dehumanizing the other side. I think if we want to rise above our provincial roots we have to do better than this. And, yes, that means extending human status to people we don't like. Its very easy to cherish people we find charming and agreeable. The real exercise of moral reason is loving the unlovable.

    September 7, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    The summary is brilliant. I'm particularly struck by the paragraph about Hitler and the closing sentence. I have argued something similar about Hitler, and NOBODY ever agreed with me. It seems to me, though, that we get on a slippery slope when we start dehumanizing ANYONE, even people who commit terrible, indefensible crimes of the sort any adjective seems too weak a condemnation.

    September 7, 2012

  • Christopher G.

    Marky, your article is from 2004, I couldn’t find anything else he has written since. There are lots of ethics concerning the military embodied in various war crimes laws and enforced by international courts, since he was in the military at the time it may have been risky for him to refer to these. I do believe a soldier does supposedly has some legal protection if he or she refuses to participate in a war crime; but I’m no expert on this.

    September 4, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great article, Marky. It could be the subject of a meeting all by itself. The NY Times review was interesting, too.

    September 3, 2012

  • Marky

    An excerpt from the linked essay in my previous post:

    From the security of our normal lives, we can bemoan and criticize the invasion of Iraq. But we must never forget that everyday, essentially decent young men and women face the most challenging situations and dilemmas they will ever encounter. They are far from their homes and neighbors. What will guide them?

    I challenge philosophers and humanists to develop a work that targets this audience. The soldiers need your help if they cannot get it from their leadership. As humanists and free thinkers we need to get our message into the hearts and minds of those young soldiers who are becoming the diplomats of the free world, for better or for worse.

    September 3, 2012

  • Marky

    Can't be there, but upon seeing the representative icon of this discussion, I submit this well-written essay from an Army reservist who served in Iraq: http://philosophynow.org/issues/48/Humanism_on_the_Front_Line

    September 3, 2012

  • Christopher G.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/books/review/Berreby-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    Richard, haven't read the book you mention, but I found this review helpful.

    September 2, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I may not be able to make it to this meeting, and I have a few thoughts about the topic that won't fit here, so I've posted them in the "Discussion" section.

    September 1, 2012

  • Richard M.

    From LESS THAN HUMAN, Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others by Dr. David L. Smith, philosophy professor at the University of New England.

    August 31, 2012

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