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David Livingstone Smith

Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others

St. Martin's Griffin

2012 Nonfiction

David Livingstone Smith is associate professor of philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, where he teaches on the philosophies of biology, ethics, metaphysics, mind, psychology, and the history of philosophy.

He is co-founder and director of the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Studies. The institute explores the interface between evolutionary biology and human nature.

A native of New York City, Smith grew up in South Florida, where he spent his youth observing, catching, and studying the insects, fish, and reptiles in the area. He continued his education in England, earning a doctorate in philosophy at the University of London, King’s College, where he studied the philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology. “These studies,” he said, “introduced me to the significance of evolutionary biology for understanding human nature, enabling me to come full circle by fusing my interest in the human mind with my earlier love of the natural world.”

Smith is the author of Why We Lie (2004) and The Most Dangerous Animal (2007). His third book, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others, illuminates the issue of dehumanization and the roots of human violence.

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Blog Posts about David Livingstone Smith

Author David Livingstone Smith Speaks On Combating Dehumanization At CWRU

Philosopher David Livingstone Smith gave a lively preview of “Making Monsters: The Uncanny Powers of Dehumanization,” his forthcoming book, for an avid circle of listeners gathered at the Inamori Center for Ethics and Excellence in Cleveland.  The new work examines two cases of spectacle lynching – public events for which railroads put on extra excursion cars, tens of thousands assembled and crowds fought for human relics and nightmarish photos to commemorate the torture and killing of young black men.Smith, 63, is keen to know “what... Read More →

A Look Back At The Rwandan Genocide: 20 Years Later, What Have We Learned?

This spring, as Rwanda commemorates the 1994 genocide that extinguished more than a million of its citizens, a nation assesses its reconstruction while the wider world wrestles with the fact that it stood by. Several important books illuminate these tasks.  "Twenty years ago today our country fell into deep ditches of darkness," said Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s current minister of foreign affairs. "Twenty years later, today, we are a country united and a nation elevated." Economic progress and a fragile peace characterize Rwanda now... Read More →

VIDEO: David Livingstone Smith On The Delusion Of Race

Philosophy Professor David Livingstone Smith kicked off the University of New England's 2014 diversity lecture series with a talk on why "race" is a destructive concept. The 2012 Anisfield-Wolf nonfiction award winner for “Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others” stated his mission at the top: "I wish to liberate you. I do not think I will succeed, but I hope I will raise questions about certain beliefs you take for granted." Smith presented his audience with a slide of four individuals with light skin and typical... Read More →

"Less Than Human": How One Professor Explores Deeper Meaning Behind Dehumanization

By Lisa Nielson, Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Fellow Lisa Nielson is the Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Fellow at Case Western Reserve University. She has a PhD in historical musicology, with a specialization in Women's Studes, and teaches seminars on the harem, slavery and courtesans. I was introduced to “Less than Human” last fall when I had the pleasure of hearing David Livingstone Smith speak at the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremony and at Case Western Reserve University the next day. His presentation was riveting, and I felt myself vacillating... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Winners Reaction To The Election

The 2012 election cycle was filled with a bombardment of political ads, 24-hour news cycles dissecting every possible angle, and an overwhelming sense of hype surrounding who will be our next batch of elected representatives. Some of our winners got in on the action and made a few comments about the election as well.  Junot Diaz, who has been writing consistently about the Latino effect in this year's election, wrote a special message on his Facebook page. "Obama WINS!" he wrote shortly after the race had been called. "The Latino community... Read More →

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards - Told Through Tweets

[View the story "77th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Ceremony" on Storify]   Read More →

"The Most Dangerous Animal": A Short Film Based Off David Livingstone Smith

Filmmaker Al Sutton was inspired by our 2012 award winner David Livingstone Smith's 2007 book, The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War.  "We have killed over 200 million people over the past century by war and genocide," Sutton writes in the film's description. "We must stop the killing to protect our loved ones, ourselves, our future."  Watch the film here and let us know what you think!  Read More →

Listen As Esi Edugyan, David Livingstone Smith, David W. Blight And Arnold Rampersad Discuss Race And Diversity

We won't spend too much time on an introduction today; let's get right to the meaty stuff. Recently, our 2012 winners all had a chance to speak with Dred-Scott Keyes on the Public Radio Exchange to discuss their books and the deeper themes within. Take a listen to David W. Blight and Esi Edugyan in part one, and David Livingstone Smith and Arnold Rampersad in part two: Read More →

Upcoming Events For Our 2012 Winners

We are roughly a month away from the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf ceremony and is customary, we are alerting fans to several opportunities to meet our 2012 winners.  Book Signing with David Livingstone Smith Cuyahoga County Public Library, Beachwood Branch (In the Meeting Room) 25501 Shaker BoulevardBeachwood, Ohio 44122-2398Corner of Richmond & Shaker BoulevardWednesday, September 12, 20127:00 PM – 8:30 PMRegistration is recommended. Click here to register.     Lecture with David W. Blight Baker-Nord Center for the... Read More →

2012 Winner David Livingstone Smith To Participate On G20 Summit Panel

2012 nonfiction winner David Livingstone Smith, author of Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others, will be a on a panel at the G20 Summit in Mexico. He's featured on a panel about provoking understanding, dealing with transforming communities and exploring new paradigms. In the video above, he explains why humans lie, and why it's a part of human nature. He tells the audience, "The picture we have now is lying is pervasive...because it's natural. It comes naturally to us. It's not something our parents have to teach... Read More →

VIDEO: David Livingstone Smith On Why Humans Demean Other Humans

"This book is the first serious study of the phenomenon of dehumanization," David Livingstone Smith says in this recent interview on his book, Less Than Human. "No one has really looked into what goes on when human beings think of other groups of human beings as sub-human creatures."  Check out the full interview to see how dehumanization has contributed to global crises like the Holocaust and global wars. Visit his website at RealHumanNature.com. Read More →

Meet Our 2012 Winners!

“The 2012 Anisfield-Wolf winners reflect the complexity of the issues of race and cultural diversity in our world,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, who serves as jury chair. “These books and the people who created them help us gain a deeper understanding of the need to respect both the humanity and individuality of one other.” Our 2012 winners are (click on any of the photos to read more... Read More →
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