One may often hear misanthropy being talked about at a narrow scale dealing with people in one’s immediate surroundings. One may be a misanthrope towards those who hinder his precious time, impede an aspect of his life, or demonstrate themselves to be worthless and without consideration. Helle Magazine has published an excellent article on misanthropy at this narrower level. In the article, misanthropy is described as a means to,
. . .discriminate against those with whom our time is not well spent. By denying this trait, you are denying your human nature. Being misanthropic does not [imply] you are socially inept, it means that you are more socially capable, as you adeptly identify time wasters, psychic vampires and idiots who do not seek to enhance your social or intellectual experience.
It’s generally good to understand definitions at the outset, that way when a broader context of an idea is discussed one will have a better understanding of what’s being presented. So for the sake of clarity, here is the definition of misanthropy that I will be using.
Misanthropy — having a strong dislike (or hatred) toward the negative tendencies of man in regard to religion, ideology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, etc. This isn’t discrimination applied arbitrarily to the general population. It isn’t even a reaction against human nature in general. My own foundation is an acceptance, a celebration of human nature; that Nietzschean ideal of this-worldliness. Rather, it’s a general disgust toward anti-human tendencies, ideas, and behaviour; these negative aspects that’s a part of the human condition.
This view is seen in the loathsome reaction to religious extremism, to those who become lower than criminals due to bunk ideology. This is applied in a broader context of humanity, where the default position is that humans should have the right to freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is when certain groups or individuals prey upon, impede, or subjugate others under the banner of their ideology that this misanthropy is derived. One could call it a sort of pragmatic or proactive humanism. It’s this sort of hatred of how horribly we deal with our species because of bad ideology.
I’ve seen those who espouse this same sort of anti-human ideology and misapply it as misanthropy, i.e. they hold the same negative views as religious extremists, that mankind is some sort of curse, and they generally wish man ill. This is baseless, as they have not given any reasons (let alone valid ones) for their ill wishing. Ironically, both these pseudo-misanthropists and religious extremists demonstrate the same negative reaction against human nature. The extremist has his eyes set on a life to come and views human nature as flawed, corrupt, or something to shed. Similarly, the pseudo-misanthrope shares in this view of corruption and seeks to distance himself from humanity. The main gripe with both groups is that they haven’t thought rationally about their position. Both stances are supercilious and arbitrary. We ought to rationally consider our views, and not hold arbitrary positions.
This point is critical, and I would say that we have a duty to think critically and deeply about our views and beliefs. Thinking rationally can be challenging and time-consuming, and some may give in to intellectual laziness or dishonesty, however, it is a noble task and rewarding in its assessment. As Matt Dillahunty can often be heard in saying, “I want to believe as many true things, and as few false things, as possible.”
In summation, this is a broader scope that looks at how horribly we treat each other due to bunk ideology. This misanthropy isn’t a reaction against fundamental human nature, rather it’s an acceptance of it and is a disgust toward anti-human ideas and behaviour at the outset. It observes that most of those who have misapplied it have taken it up out of arbitrary reasons, much like their extremist counterparts. From here, one should note this arbitrary reasoning and strive to think rationally about one’s positions and challenge his own views. As a pragmatic misanthropic humanist, I loathe our negative, anti-human, unreasonable, irrational, arbitrary ideologies that we have adopted while sacrificing our fundamental human nature on the altar of intellectual laziness and dishonesty.