Be a bit less Human and a bit more Humble
(Vinod Anand)

Innocent civilians die in some countries when bombs rain from the sky. Don’t worry; apparently these deaths are caused by so-called humanitarian bombs. Journalist Navid Kermani wrote that the term ‘humanitarian’ is inflationary.

Not only has the term humanism been misapplied, it has also had an increasingly destructive, mostly subliminal impact. From the ancient Greeks, Buddha and Lao Tzu to the Renaissance, French Revolution and until today, the word has had different meanings to different people. Among other definitions, the word humanism refers to human nature and therefore to rationalism and empiricism.

Now a days it even relates to non-theism. What was in essence an attempt to find sense, morality and explanations with emphasis on people rather than superstition became the keyword for the, self centeredness of humankind. It seems that we live in the final, apocalyptic stage of humanism, where men indeed became “the measure of all things”. Yet, not the subjective way Protagoras meant but in the sense that we became the pivotal point of the universe.

On the one hand, this propagates speciesism, which places us above any other life form, whether these may be animals we slaughter for our comfort, or whatever else is left of the planet. In addition, it facilitates domination of those who are apparently less human, as Michel Foucault argued. In recent decades, how often have we heard the word “democracy” and ‘freedom” from countries which hide their true agenda behind the rhetoric of humanism? The very word humanism is nothing but rhetoric, as it associates merely positive aspects with mankind, and henceforth moderates the negative.

Primo Levi wrote in a humanistic fashion that “nothing rational was inherent to the hate of the Nazis. It finds itself outside of the human, oblivious of the importance to admit the evil we are capable of On the other hand, it created, especially in the West, a secular world, where humans, commodities and ideas substitute gods.

The initial idea to countervail superstition culminated in annihilation of every ontological existence that surpassed human existence. I do not argue, for example, to resublime the supposed virtue of spinsterhood, but to refocus on what the idea of God gave us— that “there is more”; this awe evoking humility, this comfort and the resulting thought that “everything will be fine”. A world governed less by empiricism and rationality and more by heart and soul is plausible because it seems that today’s homo rationalists will not only become increasingly unsatisfied by looking for something absent in pure logic, but will also destroy himself through detachment of his surroundings.

Philosopher Martin Heidegger proc1aimed that we are experiencing a crisis through our growing distance towards being— nihilism is the expression of oblivion of being and abandonment of being of modern men, which terminates eventually in the planetary dominance of technique. He concluded: “Only a new god can help us now”

This does not mean we have to paint a novel man with a beard to the ceiling of our skyscrapers. For instance, I personally always found Baruch Spinoza’s thought Deus sive natura (God or nature) intriguing; that God and nature are identical in their substance and thus exchangeable.

Imagine how many problems this could solve, if more people thought like that. I do not argue that humanism is per se bad. However, I do believe that this philosophy overshot the mark, not only when it comes to humanitarian wars. Hence, let us be a bit less human and a bit more humble.

Author's Bio: 


Born in 1939, and holding Master’s Degree both in Mathematics (1959) and Economics (1961), and Doctorate Degree in Economics (1970), Dr. Vinod K.Anand has about forty five years of teaching, research, and project work experience in Economic Theory (both micro and macro), Quantitative Economics, Public Economics, New Political Economy, and Development Economics with a special focus on economic and social provisions revolving around poverty, inequality, and unemployment issues, and also on informal sector studies. His last assignment was at the National University of Lesotho (Southern Africa) from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that he was placed as Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at the University of North-West in the Republic of South Africa, and University of Allahabad in India, Professor at the National University of Lesotho, Associate Professor at the University of Botswana, Gaborone in Botswana, and at Gezira University in Wad Medani, Sudan, Head, Department of Arts and Social Sciences, Yola in Nigeria, Principal Lecturer in Economics at Maiduguri University in Nigeria, and as Lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Nigeria. Professor Anand has by now published more than 80 research papers in standard academic journals, authored 11 books, supervised a number of doctoral theses, was examiner for more than twenty Ph.D. theses, and has wide consultancy experience both in India and abroad, essentially in the African continent. This includes holding the position of Primary Researcher, Principal Consultant etc. in a number of Research Projects sponsored and funded by Universities, Governments, and International Bodies like, USAID, IDRC, and AERC. His publications include a variety of themes revolving around Economic Theory, New Political Economy, Quantitative Economics, Development Economics, and Informal Sector Studies. His consultancy assignments in India, Nigeria, Sudan, Botswana, and the Republic of South Africa include Non-Directory Enterprises in Allahabad, India, Small Scale Enterprises in the Northern States of Nigeria, The Absolute Poverty Line in Sudan, The Small Scale Enterprises in Wad Medani, Sudan, Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in Botswana, The Place of Non-Formal Micro-Enterprises in Botswana, Resettlement of a Squatter Community in the Vryburg District of North West Province in the Republic of South Africa, Trade and Investment Development Programme for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises: Support for NTSIKA in the Republic of South Africa, and Development of the Manufacturing Sector in the Republic of South Africa’s North West Province: An Approach Based on Firm Level Surveys. Professor Anand has also extensively participated in a number of conferences, offered many seminars, participated in a number of workshops, and delivered a variety of Refresher Lectures at different venues both in India and abroad. Dr. Anand was placed at the prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla in the State Himachal Pradesh, India as a Fellow from 2001 to 2003, and had completed a theoretical and qualitative research project/monograph on the Employment Profile of Micro Enterprises in the State of Himachal Pradseh, India.