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Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others

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Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A revelatory look at why we dehumanize each other, with stunning examples from world history as well as todays headlines. "Brute." "Cockroach." "Lice." "Vermin." "Dog." "Beast." These and other monikers are constantly in use to refer to other humansfor political, religious, ethnic, or sexist reasons. Human beings have a tendency to regard members of their own kind as less than human. This tendency has made atrocities like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade possible, and yet we still find it in phenomena such as xenophobia, homophobia, military propaganda, and racism. Less Than Human draws on a rich mix of history, psychology, biology, anthropology and philosophy to document the pervasiveness of dehumanization, describe its forms, and explain why we so often resort to it.

David Livingstone Smith posits that this behavior is rooted in human nature, but gives us hope in also stating that biological traits are malleable, showing us that change is possible. Less Than Human is a chilling indictment of our nature, and is as timely as it is relevant.

Review:

"Smith (The Most Dangerous Animal), cofounder and director of the Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of New England, interrogates why man alone, in Mark Twain's words, can go 'forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind.' Smith explores the ancient practice of labeling rival tribes; specific ethnic, racial, or religious groups; and species as undeserving of compassion. He is intent on untangling the mystery of dehumanization: it's insufficient to merely demonize the criminals, he argues; we must understand why, say, the Nazis believed they had a 'moral duty' to annihilate the Jews. He looks into possible biological bases, psychological and developmental roots, clues in paleolithic art, and how, over the ages, philosophers and artists have criticized or goaded on the practice. Vivid and horrifying examples of incidences (and consequences) of the harassment, torture, and extermination of certain groups saturate the book — from the European decimation of indigenous peoples in the Americas to Israeli soldiers' attacks on Palestinian children. Smith's compelling study and his argument that the study of dehumanization be made a global priority to prevent future Rwandas or Hiroshimas is well-made and important. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"David Livingstone Smith produces a clear and illuminating vision of why human beings are the way we are and how we got this way. The scholarship is broad, the insight is deep and the prose is compelling. Less Than Human will change the way you think about things that matter profoundly. This is dazzling stuff." Steven E. Landsburg, Ph.D., author of The Big Questions

Review:

"This is a beautiful book on an ugly topic. David Livingstone Smith uses the newest research in cognitive science to address the problems of racism, genocide, and atrocity, presenting a provocative theory as to why we come to see others as less than human. There are deep and important ideas here, and this engaging book should be read by anyone interested in the worst aspects of human nature — and how we can come to transcend them." Paul Bloom, author of How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like and professor of psychology, Yale University

Review:

"In this powerful and original work — ranging widely and with impressive interdisciplinary scope over different epochs and cultures while remaining compellingly readable — David Livingstone Smith demonstrates that our practice of representing our fellow-humans as subhuman is both inhuman and all too human. He forces us to recognize that monstrous atrocities are routinely carried out not by monsters but, alas, by ourselves." Charles W. Mills, Ph.D. author of The Racial Contract, John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy

Review:

"Warning: This book will challenge you! Not that it's hard to understand — in fact, it's wonderfully accessible — but it raises some terrible realities. For this reason, it is all the more important that you read Less that Human. It is brilliantly written, carefully researched, and a wonderful and much-needed opportunity for us to explore what it might mean to be 'truly human.'" David P. Barash, author of Payback: Why We Retaliate, Seek Revenge and Redirect Our Aggression

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction
 
A revelatory look at why we dehumanize each other, with stunning examples from world history as well as todays headlines

“Brute.” “Cockroach.” “Lice.” “Vermin.” “Dog.” “Beast.” These and other monikers are constantly in use to refer to other humans—for political, religious, ethnic, or sexist reasons. Human beings have a tendency to regard members of their own kind as less than human. This tendency has made atrocities like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade possible, and yet we still find it in phenomena such as xenophobia, homophobia, military propaganda, and racism. Less Than Human draws on a rich mix of history, psychology, biology, anthropology and philosophy to document the pervasiveness of dehumanization, describe its forms, and explain why we so often resort to it.

David Livingstone Smith posits that this behavior is rooted in human nature, but gives us hope in also stating that biological traits are malleable, showing us that change is possible. Less Than Human is a chilling indictment of our nature, and is as timely as it is relevant.

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction
 
A revelatory look at why we dehumanize each other, with stunning examples from world history as well as todays headlines

“Brute.” “Cockroach.” “Lice.” “Vermin.” People often regard members of their own kind as less than human, and use terms like these for those whom they wish to harm, enslave, or exterminate. Dehumanization has made atrocities like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade possible. But it isnt just a relic of the past. We still find it in war, genocide, xenophobia, and racism. Smith shows that it is a dangerous mistake to think of dehumanization as the exclusive preserve of Nazis, communists, terrorists, Jews, Palestinians, or any other monster of the moment. We are all potential dehumanizers, just as we are all potential objects of dehumanization. The problem of dehumanization is everyones problem. 

Less Than Human is the first book to illuminate precisely how and why we sometimes think of others as subhuman creatures. It draws on a rich mix of history, evolutionary psychology, biology, anthropology, and philosophy to document the pervasiveness of dehumanization, describe its forms, and explain why we so often resort to it. Less Than Human is a powerful and highly original study of the roots of human violence and bigotry, and it as timely as it is relevant.

About the Author

Dr. David Livingstone Smith is the author of Why We Lie and The Most Dangerous Animal. He is professor of philosophy and cofounder and director of the Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Studies at the University of New England. He and his wife live in Portland, Maine.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312532727
Author:
Smith, David Livingstone
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Subject:
Life Sciences - Zoology - Entomology
Subject:
Life Sciences - Biology - General
Subject:
General
Subject:
Entomology
Subject:
Life Sciences/Biology
Subject:
Biology-Entomology and General Invertebrates
Subject:
Ethnic Studies-Racism and Ethnic Conflict
Subject:
Discrimination & Race Relations
Subject:
Genocide & War Crimes
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20110331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Related Subjects

Children's » Activities » General
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
History and Social Science » Anthropology » General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Racism and Ethnic Conflict
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Violence in Society
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Entomology and General Invertebrates
Science and Mathematics » Biology » General

Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$24.99 In Stock
Product details 336 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9780312532727 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Smith (The Most Dangerous Animal), cofounder and director of the Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of New England, interrogates why man alone, in Mark Twain's words, can go 'forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind.' Smith explores the ancient practice of labeling rival tribes; specific ethnic, racial, or religious groups; and species as undeserving of compassion. He is intent on untangling the mystery of dehumanization: it's insufficient to merely demonize the criminals, he argues; we must understand why, say, the Nazis believed they had a 'moral duty' to annihilate the Jews. He looks into possible biological bases, psychological and developmental roots, clues in paleolithic art, and how, over the ages, philosophers and artists have criticized or goaded on the practice. Vivid and horrifying examples of incidences (and consequences) of the harassment, torture, and extermination of certain groups saturate the book — from the European decimation of indigenous peoples in the Americas to Israeli soldiers' attacks on Palestinian children. Smith's compelling study and his argument that the study of dehumanization be made a global priority to prevent future Rwandas or Hiroshimas is well-made and important. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , "David Livingstone Smith produces a clear and illuminating vision of why human beings are the way we are and how we got this way. The scholarship is broad, the insight is deep and the prose is compelling. Less Than Human will change the way you think about things that matter profoundly. This is dazzling stuff."
"Review" by , "This is a beautiful book on an ugly topic. David Livingstone Smith uses the newest research in cognitive science to address the problems of racism, genocide, and atrocity, presenting a provocative theory as to why we come to see others as less than human. There are deep and important ideas here, and this engaging book should be read by anyone interested in the worst aspects of human nature — and how we can come to transcend them." Paul Bloom, author of How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like and professor of psychology, Yale University
"Review" by , "In this powerful and original work — ranging widely and with impressive interdisciplinary scope over different epochs and cultures while remaining compellingly readable — David Livingstone Smith demonstrates that our practice of representing our fellow-humans as subhuman is both inhuman and all too human. He forces us to recognize that monstrous atrocities are routinely carried out not by monsters but, alas, by ourselves." Charles W. Mills, Ph.D. author of The Racial Contract, John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy
"Review" by , "Warning: This book will challenge you! Not that it's hard to understand — in fact, it's wonderfully accessible — but it raises some terrible realities. For this reason, it is all the more important that you read Less that Human. It is brilliantly written, carefully researched, and a wonderful and much-needed opportunity for us to explore what it might mean to be 'truly human.'"
"Synopsis" by ,
Winner of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction
 
A revelatory look at why we dehumanize each other, with stunning examples from world history as well as todays headlines

“Brute.” “Cockroach.” “Lice.” “Vermin.” “Dog.” “Beast.” These and other monikers are constantly in use to refer to other humans—for political, religious, ethnic, or sexist reasons. Human beings have a tendency to regard members of their own kind as less than human. This tendency has made atrocities like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade possible, and yet we still find it in phenomena such as xenophobia, homophobia, military propaganda, and racism. Less Than Human draws on a rich mix of history, psychology, biology, anthropology and philosophy to document the pervasiveness of dehumanization, describe its forms, and explain why we so often resort to it.

David Livingstone Smith posits that this behavior is rooted in human nature, but gives us hope in also stating that biological traits are malleable, showing us that change is possible. Less Than Human is a chilling indictment of our nature, and is as timely as it is relevant.
"Synopsis" by ,
Winner of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction
 
A revelatory look at why we dehumanize each other, with stunning examples from world history as well as todays headlines

“Brute.” “Cockroach.” “Lice.” “Vermin.” People often regard members of their own kind as less than human, and use terms like these for those whom they wish to harm, enslave, or exterminate. Dehumanization has made atrocities like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade possible. But it isnt just a relic of the past. We still find it in war, genocide, xenophobia, and racism. Smith shows that it is a dangerous mistake to think of dehumanization as the exclusive preserve of Nazis, communists, terrorists, Jews, Palestinians, or any other monster of the moment. We are all potential dehumanizers, just as we are all potential objects of dehumanization. The problem of dehumanization is everyones problem. 

Less Than Human is the first book to illuminate precisely how and why we sometimes think of others as subhuman creatures. It draws on a rich mix of history, evolutionary psychology, biology, anthropology, and philosophy to document the pervasiveness of dehumanization, describe its forms, and explain why we so often resort to it. Less Than Human is a powerful and highly original study of the roots of human violence and bigotry, and it as timely as it is relevant.

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