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RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

What do the words "inhumane" and "humane" mean to you?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30938points) December 16th, 2011

Somehow Lacking pity or compassion. and Characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion just doesn’t seem accurate to me. Doesn’t that presuppose that pity, kindness, compassion, and mercy are universal amongst all humans?

I see just as many humans exhibiting spite, jealousy, anger, greed, and apathy as the so called humane virtues. If humans do it, doesn’t that make it humane… regardless of what it is?

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9 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Humans are supposed to be more civilized than the rest of the animal kingdom I guess. We can resist our animal insincts, we have empathy for others, and will deny ourselves. Something like that. It actually is not very odd to me to use those terms, I don’t think of people as selfish, greedy people generally, but I see your argument.

Blackberry's avatar

Maybe I’m not a regular human, who knows, but I am so humane and generally good-hearted (I think) that I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Are there really so many spiteful, angry, and greedy humans that these traits are the default? I don’t see anything wrong with the definitions, but I of course understand they aren’t all encompassing.

flo's avatar

”...spite, jealousy, anger, greed, and apathy as the so called humane virtues…”
Who says that? Someone who was using the antonym dictionary by error when they were looking up the words? Humane and Virtue, are positive qualities.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m not denying what the dictionary says @flo. I’m just wondering why it says it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Humane ≠ human. That’s why it is not inherently contradictory to say “humans are generally inhumane” (an example sentence from the thesaurus section of the dictionary to which you linked). While the words are etymologically linked, the word “humane” should not be taken as limited to what is common of humans. Instead, the etymological link reflects that the concept finds its origin in a particular ideal regarding humans (without tying it down to humanity).

Spite, jealousy, anger, greed, and apathy are neither humane virtues (by definition) nor human virtues (as a proper understanding of what virtue is reveals). They may be practiced as if they were the latter, and they may be hidden beneath a great number of putatively virtuous human actions (indeed, Nietzsche considered them to be the driving force of slave moralities), but how we act and how we should act are two different questions. One is descriptive; the other is normative.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Very nice @SavoirFaire… And thanks to all. I am always fascinated how and why we use words to describe the world around us.

flo's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies If a dictionar/ies say things that don’t make sense, (I haven’t gone to the link, I will take your word) then they are wrong. Are they flawlless? No, people are flawed therefore dictionaries would be flawed. If dictionaries say growing something is correct (just because of usage) then they are flawed. What would be the point of going to the dictionary to find out what is correct? You raise things, and things that we raise, grow.

flo's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
The way I see it:
“Human” = as opposed to the the rest of the animal kingdom.
Humane = merciful.
Inhumane =cruelty.
I don’t know why any dictionary would make that compliced.

flo's avatar

Also, Human = flawed. To err is human.

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