MISANTHROPE [MIS-uhn-throhp]: a hater of humankind


Given the atrocities we observe in places like Syria, is it any wonder that we have to ask the question about motivation? Specifically, what is the motivation for a national leader who seemingly willingly slaughters his people without regard for their relationships,ages, or circumstances.

I can only come to the conclusion that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad is a man who hates people without regard to their specific indentifications.  That, to me, is a form of misanthrope.  That is to say, I believe President Al Assad hates humankind.

Misanthrope is an Anglicized form of the Greek word mīsánthrōpos, meaning, literally, “hating humankind.”    It found its way into regular use in contemporary English by the familiarity which occurred with the publication of The Misanthrope by Moliere, the 17th century comic dramatist. Born Jean Baptiste Poquelin, he was the son of wealthy French mercantile parents.   His plays, including The Misanthrope, were a shocking deparature in French drama, and established a new genre of comic drama.  They were not universally received, and he lived his life among those who loved his work and those who hated it.   The Roman Catholic Church was particularly critical of his depiction of human social interaction.   But the works survived and have become standards for a peculiar way of portraying human social interaction.

The attributing of the term misanthrope to a person has inappropriately carried theological characteristics, and misanthropes are sometimes characterized as atheists.  That may be the case in some situations, but there are those who demonstrate misanthropic behavior who believe in, but feel estranged from God.  This may well be the case for President Al Assad, who declares himself to be a devout Muslim and sees no reasons to portray his horrific behavior as anything but a strict adherence to Muslim code.

To characterize Al Assad as a misanthrope is to express a personal belief which could be challenged by others, but what is one to think when men, women and children who see themselves as citizens of Syria and may even be followers and admirers of the President are ordered to be slaughtered mercilessly?   Does the President’s action demonstrate anthing except despise for human life?  Is there any redeeming value to his actions?

The ironic character to this form of misanthropy is the philosophical concept of “self-referential paradox,” of which I have written some time ago,in which a belief bounces back against the believer.  If, for instance, Al Assad hates all humankind, does that hatred include himself?  Perhaps.  Self-loathing is not unheard of.   But there does seem to be some degree of self-love,  self-protection, and self-aggrandization which is demonstrated by his willingness to destroy others but go to extremes to guard against his own destruction.  So maybe my depiction of him as a misanthrope is flawed.


Graphic Credit:  FunAnaBun

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