General Question

Introverted_Leo's avatar

What is your opinion of the following statement: "People are tools"?

Asked by Introverted_Leo (1957points) February 11th, 2011

How does that statement make you feel? Really, I’m not looking for anything other than opinions. I ask out of curiosity. If you really feel you need more details from me, however, just ask and I’ll provide them if necessary and appropriate.

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24 Answers

Garebo's avatar

Yes we are. That is what capitalism, socialism and communism is all about.
In a local sense, yeah it p’s me off they take my great work for granted without a pat on the back-get use to it.

TexasDude's avatar

To co-opt an old saying:

“10% of people are truly good, 10% are truly evil, and the other 80% are easily swayed.”

Garebo's avatar

The Law of 80/20 again.

gorillapaws's avatar

I try to focus on the things within my control. That typically means I try to avoid worrying about other people. I have known enough good people in my life to say with certainty that there are many good people in this world.

augustlan's avatar

Well, it depends on the context, to me. Are we saying, “people are used as tools, by other people/corporations/governments” or are we saying, “people suck”? Either way, I’d take exception with it, because both statements are sweeping generalizations. (Though I’m totally guilty of saying “people suck”, I don’t really mean it.) Whoever is saying it may be using it the same way I do, as a kind of hyperbole, or they may truly believe it. If someone truly believes that all/most people either suck or are clueless and easily manipulated, I’d say they haven’t looked hard enough.

submariner's avatar

Immanuel Kant disagrees.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
incendiary_dan's avatar

Typically when I hear it, someone is referring to another’s inability to think for themselves in a particularly disparaging way.

mammal's avatar

Tools infer objectivity, if you mean to say are humans mere implements? Then no, they are sentient beings with hopes and aspirations, they are not to be taken as instruments, @submariner is correct, Humans are ends in themselves and not a means to an ends.

Somebody mentioned Communism and Socialism, although it is true that China and the former Soviet Union had a worrying disregard for the Proletariat that it was supposedly at so much pains to nurture, this may have been more the ruthless disregard for the Individual in favour of the People (or the state administration, if one is skeptical)

Although Communism is a materialist doctrine, and based on principles that deal fundamentally with Human labour it doesn’t relegate Humans to the status of tools, in fact it it is in direct response to such an attitude that Communism gained such popularity.

Today, the left is still keen to work against the cynical treatment of humanity as merely a resource for exploitation, as consumers or as dead weight. We hear all the time references to immigration as cheap labour. That it is seemingly inconceivable to perceive them in any other way. They are denied their human essence in this respect. They are dehumanised.

blueknight73's avatar

The older i get, the more i really feel this way. I think i would rather spend more time with my dog then with humans :)

12Oaks's avatar

Disagree totally.

Scooby's avatar

It’s certainly the case where I work! :-/
Once your broken or don’t quite function the way you’re supposed to, you’re easily replaced…….. I haven’t broken yet but my functionality might be getting a little stiff… I may be replace by a robot!? :-/
They’re a lot easier to re-programme & more likely to argue back less …..

We’re increasingly seen as tools in one way or another & not individuals, that’s unfortunate for us all…….

filmfann's avatar

The statement People Are Tools makes me think they are saying Tools in reference to Dicks.
And a lot of people are.

LostInParadise's avatar

I really dislike the expression “human resources.” This is the current corporate term for what used to be referred to as personnel. A resource is even at a lower level than a tool. I have this image of there being a leak due to a hole in the roof and being pushed through the hole to plug it.

tranquilsea's avatar

When I hear it and it’s being used in a derogatory way I respond with, “Yes, they are useful aren’t they?” People can be very frustrating I know but I am not big fan of name calling.

iLove's avatar

When I hear someone say this, I think it is a synonym for dumbass, incompetent, etc. So basically when someone says, “people are tools”, I feel they are saying they are dumbasses.

Pretty general statement, but it depends on if you mean when used in reference to a single person.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

Thanks to all who answered up to this point. :)

It’s interesting all the words people associate with “people are tools”:

capitalism, socialism, communism, good, evil, easily-swayed, control, used, governments, corporations, suck, clueless, easily manipulated, Immanuel Kant (I had to look that one up, heh), inability to think for one’s self, disparaging, objectivity, implements, sentient beings, hopes, aspirations, instruments, China, Soviet Union, ruthless disregard for the Individual, the People (note: with a capital P), materialist doctrine, skeptical, Human labour (love that spelling), cynical treatment of humanity, resource for exploitation, consumers, deadweight, cheap labour, human essence, dehumanised, broken, easily replaced, functionality, robot, re-programme, a-certain-vulgar-word-I-shall-refrain-from-repeating (heh), human resources, derogatory, useful, dumba$$… And finally, incompetent.

Well done. I really love that resulting word soup.

* * *

In any case, I did realize that “people are tools” could be interpreted in many different ways depending on the context, but that was the whole point of me asking without providing any. I was interested to know how people might respond to the statement if they heard it offhandedly.

Some people respond automatically with the first thing that comes to mind, and others approached it from more than one angle—which is fine either way. I just wanted to understand the psychological effect it had on others.

Personally, I have opinions ranging on both sides of the spectrum of the “tool” versus the “human” dichotomy that pops up. I see people as both tools and humans—which seems contradictory to me in the coldness that comes with the word “tool” and the warmth that comes with “human,” but that’s how I feel. It’s something I’m still sorting out, emotionally, though your answers all help, I think.

Scooby's avatar


well, for my part :-/
Glad to be of service, and glad you liked the ingredients for the “soup” ;-) GA…

Introverted_Leo's avatar

Oh, and I forgot ”ends” and ”means to an end.” There are probably some more, but those are the ones that stood out to me.

mattbrowne's avatar

That’s what Mubarak thought.

Turned out he was wrong.

mattbrowne's avatar

He saw the Egyptians as tools to help him amass $70 billion. Let’s hope the banks are now freezing most of it.

mammal's avatar

@mattbrowne let’s hope he can now be of some service to something other than himself, perhaps he could serve himself to the Sharks off Sharm el Sheikh.

mattbrowne's avatar

@mammal – I actually don’t think he’s in Egypt anymore. So maybe the sharks need to look for some other meal. The Egyptian military led government asked US and European Union to freeze the assets of top henchmen of ousted Hosni Mubarak as well. I hope this will happen soon. Switzerland has already announced it was freezing his assets.

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