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Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Othersby David Livingstone Smith
Synopses & Reviews
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 a professor of philosophy and founding director of The Human Nature Project at the University of New England. He is the author of Why We Lie and The Most Dangerous Animal and lives in Portland, Maine. Visit his blog at realhumannature.com.
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