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There has been many great philosophers and thinkers that at some point or for all their lives hated society:

“In the depths of my heart I can’t help being convinced that my dear fellow-men, with a few exceptions, are worthless.” ― Sigmund Freud, Letters of Sigmund Freud, 1873-1939

"Of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing can ever be made" Immanuel Kant

In affability there is no hatred of men, but for that very reason there is all too much contempt for men. Friedrich Nietzsche

“I'm tired of this back-slappin' "isn't humanity neat" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes.” ― Bill Hicks

Why is it produced? Is it a lack of understanding or empathy towards other people? Is it produced by isolation? How can it be overcome? Or perhaps it is because when we believe there is something wrong with the world there is something wrong with us? Are there any specific books that explain how philosophers or other intellectuals overcame Misanthropy? (If it's possible even before the existence of psychology)

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    hatred towards humanity is different than hatred towards society. the one person that you quote that really expresses the hatred you are suggesting is Freud. And he's not a philosopher. – Swami Vishwananda May 23 '18 at 9:51
  • I am not a moderator nor did I down-vote, but I did vote to close this question because I think it is off-topic for this site. – Frank Hubeny May 23 '18 at 12:40
  • @FrankHubeny Could you explain to me why this question is not relevant? Let's presume a university philosophy student wanted some references on how these philosophers overcame misanthropy? Are you going to prevent that from happening because of personal reasons? – PbxMan May 23 '18 at 13:05
  • This is not a university, but a Q&A site. Whatever is done here is not a requirement for what should be done elsewhere. I also consider the question too broad and primarily opinion based. Focus your question on one of the four examples you mentioned above and quote some source to narrow your interest in that person further. Then form a question that could be answered by someone in a few paragraphs. – Frank Hubeny May 23 '18 at 13:21
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    Who says they all hated humanity? I believe they hated social structure (i.e. Kant was dissatisfied by social trends). – rus9384 May 23 '18 at 18:40
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Misanthropy could simply be an expression of frustration - or a perception of reality. Most people in our culture are taught to respect authority. We're taught that man was created in God's image, blah, blah, blah.

When a person suddenly discovers that authority can be extraordinarily corrupt, that people have a dark side, humans have been trashing the very planet we live on for thousands of years, and maybe there is no God, then it's only natural to see people in a new light.

In this spirit, we might ask if misanthropy is necessarily bad or "evil."

With that in mind, we might visualize three categories of books:

  1. Books that ignore the problems with people and society, treating misanthropes as misguided people who need to be fixed.

  2. Books that seek to eliminate misanthropy by fixing the flawed people who make other people hate them.

  3. Books that admit the human species may have a few problems, but which urge misanthropes to lighten up and be more patient with the people who are torturing and murdering other people, campaigning for nuclear war and figuring out new ways to wreck the global ecosystem.

Of course, none of what I wrote really answers your question directly, nor have I read any books about misanthropy. However, it appears that a number of books on the subject have been written. One that caught my eye is Misanthropy: The Critique of Humanity by Andrew Gibson.

Here are a couple lines from a description on Amazon.com:

This book is the first major study of the theme of misanthropy, its history, arguments both for and against it, and its significance for us today. . . . This book does not seek to rationalize that distrust, but asks how far misanthropy might have a reason on its side, if a confused reason.

There are only three reviews - 5 stars, 4 stars and 1 star.

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I find it interesting to compare Hobbes and Rousseau. Their ideas of the 'state of nature are diametrically opposed. The' war of all against all' vs the 'noble savage'. They unfold this from their views about human nature, and one can't help but feel, their own natured.

We can see the same dynamic, from Kant to Sartre. The projections of their concerns onto themselves, their view of human nature, and their conclusions about what dilemmas we face.

“I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I hate men individually the more I love humanity.” - Dostoevsky

This is perhaps the mark of the idealist. Many right wing philosophies take the opposite view, the individual has 'pristine' economic motives, but groups and besuracracies seek to pervert 'nature'.

Take the science instead. You have more neurons in your brain than stars in our galaxy. The most complex systems we know of in the universe are between our ears. How can that not provoke wonder, awe? We find that altruism is instinctive, selfishness a learned behaviour. Eusociality is key to human divergence. We have made many mistakes as a species, but we are bringing a conscious awareness to our understanding of the world and our roll in it. Emma Harris https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13168199-the-rambunctious-garden says in the anthropocene we live in a post-wild world. That is cause for sadness. But if we step up to our responsibilities, as global gardeners, it could herald the beginning of a new Eden.

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My response to Elliot Svensson, since I'm a newbie and couldn't respond directly to you.

Misanthropy, contrary to popular belief, is not the hatred of everybody. It is the general contempt and disdain for the human race. The misanthrope sees the human race as THE problem - destructive, apathetic, egotistical and mostly stupid. Misanthropes acknowledge they they are part of the human race they despise but tend to disassociate themselves from the crowd that evidently cannot detach themselves from the mob-mentality.

Surprising as it may be misanthropes do not shun everyone as most do have friends and family they care for and keep in touch with. They are not always averse to human interaction as the occasional conversation can be bearable and even pleasant depending, of course, on the person or persons they happen to be in conversation with. Some people are more tolerable than others. A few can be surprisingly logical. A few. Generally, the misanthrope prefers people to stay away and observe a generous personal space.

Tropes like "stronger together" are proof to the misanthrope that even the idiots, in spite of their low intellectual capacity, recognise problems exist in our world that need fixing but the very implication of the phrase itself is one of neediness and puts the misanthrope off. Gestures like group-hugs cause the misanthrope to squirm as they emphasise, once more, humans are emotionally needy and have a penchant for displaying their weak disposition. Social-kisses come across as insincere and pretentious but crap and all that jazz happens.

Seeing how many human beings are not even sufficiently capable of independent thought as evident from the garbage that is piling up on social media like dead bodies in an apocalypse, the misanthrope is convinced they do not want to be part of the stupidity that is the human race.

A day out for the supremely misanthropic is akin to torture. Hearing bimbotic girls squeal at the slightest provocation can feel like being skinned alive. Watching demonstrations of false machismo from boys and men trying to prove a point is no less painful. The girl in school uniform ahead of the misanthrope in the queue at the stationery store should never have been born. She is vehemently trying to figure what is half of the price of one pen in spite of the repeated insistence by the cashier that the special offer means she can buy two pens for the price of one. Her useless mother standing by quietly should never have spawned. Stupid breeds stupid. It would have been less painful getting stabbed with the same pen the dumb child was holding then to have to listen to the vegetable pretend to have a brain. In some such instances, death would have been a welcome respite. This is misanthropy.

The worse than can happen to a misanthrope who is well-known in their community for avoiding the people, is when said imbeciles regard them as mentally ill or needing support and intervention. Imbeciles have been known to employ NLP techniques in an attempt to 'help’ the misanthrope 'integrate’. NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming is really about behaviour-modification. Below is taken from website for the NLP academy in UK.

"Neuro Linguistic Programming began it’s life early in the 1970s when an Associate Professor from the University of California, Santa Cruz, John Grinder, teamed up with an undergraduate Richard Bandler. Both men had a fascination with human excellence which charted a path for them to model behavioural patterns of selected geniuses."

The point is that while you can make a person adopt the behaviour and attitude of a genius, you cannot miraculously turn a village idiot into a certified genius. The abovementioned imbeciles have undergone NLP training. The programme may have benefitted a number of people but in the hands of idiots trying to apply it on someone else, their effort looks more like a circus act where Dodo the clown, reeking of alcohol, forgets he is no trapeze and falls to his death after a staggeringly spectacular attempt to swing to from platform to platform. Thus ends the existence of Dodo. Alas, the other humans still live and that asteroid is nowhere in sight.

Observing human antics can induce behaviour in the misanthrope that resembles madness. Crying and laughing at the same time - I call it craughing - is quite a feat for most but the misanthrope is quite adept at it.

The misanthrope finds ludicruous but understands how and why most human beings crave social interaction, seek approval and acceptance. That these super-social and needy humans cannot comprehend why the misanthrope might reject all that they stand for, desire and embrace is one more reason the misanthrope despises them. The misanthrope only needs to wake up each day to be convinced the human race is brain-dead.

The misanthrope decries those who make a huge display of their philanthropic gestures. They laugh hysterically at the appointment of one who has displayed perverse behaviour to the post of local community watch official. They despair at vain attempts to quantify the immeasurable like beauty which in turn promotes fake beauty and unrealistic ideas of perfection. They anger at the damaged and lost lives when failure to reach unrealistic expectations become overwhelming.The misanthrope, however, does not stop there. They condemn the idiotic for even trying. They died because they were weak-willed enough to fall prey to populism. No one pointed a gun to their heads. Just because they are dead does not mean they were not stupid when they were alive.

Few things that are not the laws of physics and mathematical formulas are set in stone. For every beautiful face there is one more beautiful to someone else somewhere. The homosexual condemned by various religious groups may just be the one to stop a depressive-suicidal from taking a flying leap off a building. The bald, middle-aged man on the bus may not have hair or a car but will be enthusiastically welcomed by his daughter when he gets home.

The conundrum and contradiction that is the misanthrope is the result of not being able to reconcile superficial values, shallow behaviour, cultural and religious slavitude, and prideful attitude at being lords of all living creatures with how evolved and superior humans are supposedly.

If reports are accurate, then we have caused more destruction than most of us care to admit. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/30/humanity-wiped-out-animals-since-1970-major-report-finds

Some blatantly and arrogantly deny the responsibility that is undeniably ours for healing the planet we destroyed in the first place. That’s how far gone we are as a species. Instead of pooling our resources into critical areas where it can do most good we are staging beauty pageants where the worst hypocrites claim to be feminists who promote equality for women but parade around in outfits they think will show off their physique advantageously so they can win a beauty contest. Hello bimbotic hypocrites.

Society has been dumbed-down and stupefied so that we are now intellectually bereft. The misanthrope wants to be detached from the mass stupidity. It's a zombiac frenzy out there and they are not interested in the lives of their fellow human beings. Just the the thought that they are fellow anything-at all with such contemptible morons is excruciating. Morons cause most of their own problems - leaking breast implants, freezing to death on the streets after a bout of heavy drinking at the pub, having no money for food after uncontrolled gambling are but examples that don't even make a fraction of the inexhaustible list. People are stupid. That does not mean the misanthrope thinks they are smarter.

From time to time the misanthrope may, out of sheer curiosity, look up other misanthropes like themselves. You do understand they are a rarity. Their search usually ends with the conviction that the problem with the human race - the incurable and inherent insipidity - is more pronounced than suspected. This usually happens when the search turns up blogs from people professing to be ex-misanthropes but especially the ex-teenage misanthrope. https://www.econlib.org/archives/2013/05/i_was_a_teenage.html

One of the definitions of a teenager ought to be 'an angry person aged 13 to 19’. Being always angry can lead to the mistaken belief that one is a misanthrope but no, that isn’t what makes a misanthrope. The ex misanthrope was never a misanthrope - they simply did not belong; they had yet to find their group or niche. Once they find people they can identify with, who they have not rejected already, their sociablity-quotient suddenly multiplies exponentially like live cultures in the right conditions.

The real misanthrope is just not interested in imagining the rose bush that will grow out of the pile of manure. They will not shy away from calling out cow dung for what it is, unpleasant and undesirable - a biohazard not unlike decomposing corpses left out in the open. The only good cow dung as far as the misanthrope is concerned is when it cannot be seen or trodden on. Misanthropes make poor farmers. On second thought, misanthropes would make good farmers. I take that back, the misanthrope may love the quiet and solitude farm life affords but still may not make good farmers. Farm or no farm, cow dung is everywhere and the smell lingers in the nostrils for a while.

If the misanthrope’s best friend displays silly behaviour the misanthrope will call it out. The misanthrope’s friends and family will already be familiar with their cantankerous friend’s views of people. If they are not misanthropes themselves, these will love the misanthrope immensely or have a great sense of humour to stick around for the long haul. To be fair to the misanthrope, they can be steadfast, loving and generous. The rest of the world will never see the compassion and vulnerabilities a misanthrope exhibits only to a select group of people. The rest of the human race are inconsequential. Hence their perceptions of the misanthrope, accurate or otherwise, are also immaterial.

The misanthrope does not see the point in drama and delusions because it takes too much effort and does not lead to anything productive. Florence King who wrote “With Charity Toward None,” was a proponent of misanthropy and she's worth a read. At least have a look at this introductory article to her work. https://www.saybrook.edu/blog/2013/12/10/12-10-13/

Finally, the misanthrope takes the view that there is no hope for the human race. There is no hope for the world. Our planet is lost because we are vain, stupid and do not deserve all that was good that we have wantonly destroyed. The misanthrope will wipe the tint off your lovely glasses so you see colours as they are. When you insist on black and white they chuck shades of grey in your face. They rock the boat, challenge the status quo and make people who like to think human beings are swell queasy. They are the threat that dumb and dumber want to drug, handcuff and throw into a soundproof cell never to be seen or heard from again. That way the dumb fest can carry on singing "What a Wonderful World" unperturbed and uninterrupted.

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    This provides an interesting description of misanthropes. If you have references to others who take similar views this would strengthen the answer and give the reader a place to go for more information. Also the OP asks how misanthropy may be overcome. Perhaps it can't. – Frank Hubeny Feb 7 at 13:16
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    Hi Frank, thanks for the comment. There is nothing to overcome.The strength of the negativity of our views frightens most people into wanting to cure us of them. When people don't understand where someone is coming from or are terrified of us thinking we must want to kill everybody because we hate everybody - the easy solution is to tag us misanthropes with all sorts mental illnesses. People look for answers in the wrong places and force fit their meagre knowledge into nooks and crannies of the human experience where they simply cannot be applied and misanthropy is once again validated. – gwen Feb 7 at 15:29
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    You have expanded my vocabulary with 'bimbotic'. Lovely word. – PeterJ Feb 7 at 15:31
  • Hello Peter, I didn't know it was a non-word. Ha. – gwen Feb 7 at 15:32
  • Update. Just looked it up. It is a word. Double ha. – gwen Feb 7 at 15:42
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I suppose that misanthropy could be tied together with "the problem of evil", which has been addressed by philosophers in various ways.

By the way, I perceive misanthropy to be highly self-contradictory, since you can't hate everybody unless you hate everybody...and what was it you thought was so bad about them? Their kindness?

  • Self-contradictory or self-condemnatory! – elliot svensson May 23 '18 at 18:38

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