Tag Archives: TED

Dehumanization studies

This talk by David Livingstone Smith (Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England in Maine) scratches the surface of an important, disturbing topic, and at 11:32 he points out an important omission in our study of history and war:

if we really do care about humanity and decency and peace, we should treat dehumanization with the same seriousness that we treated cholera and smallpox. We should devote resources to studying it. We should devote resources to disarming it. But the fact is, to the best of my knowledge and I know quite a bit about this, there is nowhere in the world where there is a center, where there is a department where there is a government agency, where there is an NGO specifically devoted to the study of dehumanization… If we want our future to be less hideous than our past… then this has got to change – it’s time we took dehumanization seriously.

I’m aware of many places for the study of the Holocaust and other genocides, as well as centers for peace and conflict studies – these could no doubt offer great insight. But to specifically study the psychological phenomena behind the atrocities we want to end, that would be a great step towards peace.