Problem

Misanthropy

Other Names:
Misanthrope
Distrust of other people
Nature:

Misanthropy is the general hatred, dislike, distrust or contempt of the human species, human behavior or human nature. A misanthrope or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The word's origin is from the Greek words μῖσος mīsos 'hatred' and ἄνθρωπος ānthropos 'man, human'. Misanthropy involves a negative evaluative attitude towards humanity that is based on a negative judgment concerning mankind's flaws. These flaws are seen as ubiquitous, i.e. possessed by almost everyone to a serious degree and not just by a few extreme cases. They are also held to be entrenched, meaning that there is either no or no easy way to rectify them short of a complete transformation of the dominant way of life.

The major flaws pointed out by misanthropes include intellectual flaws, moral flaws and aesthetic flaws. Intellectual flaws, like wishful thinking, dogmatism, stupidity and cognitive biases, are what leads to false beliefs, what obstructs knowledge, or what violates the demands of rationality. Moral flaws, like cruelty, indifference to the suffering of others, selfishness and cowardice, are often identified with tendencies to promote what is bad or with inappropriate attitudes towards values. Aesthetic flaws concern ugliness and include ugly aspects of human life, ugliness caused by human activities, and lack of sensitivity to beauty. Proponents of misanthropy often focus on moral flaws and provide various examples of their manifestations, like mass killings, factory farming of livestock and pollution of the environment. Opponents respond to this by pointing out that serious moral flaws are only manifested by a few mentally ill people or under extreme circumstances, which is denied by misanthropes. Another important consideration for arguments based on flaws is that they highlight only one side of humanity while evaluative attitudes should take all sides into account. Other arguments against misanthropy are based not on whether this attitude appropriately reflects the negative value of humanity but on the costs of accepting a position associated with hatred, for the individual and for society at large. Defenders have responded to this by showing how a misanthropic perspective can lead to various different forms of life. While some of them are based on hatred and may lead to violence, others focus more on fear and withdrawing oneself from the negative influence. Further alternatives include resignation and activism fueled by the hope of bringing about radical transformation.

Misanthropy figures in various works of art and philosophy. It is closely related to but not identical with philosophical pessimism, which involves a negative attitude not just to humankind but to life as a whole. Misanthropic considerations have been used as an argument for anti-natalism, the view that coming into existence is bad and that humans, therefore, have a duty to abstain from procreation.

Subject(s):
Society People
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST