Environmental Ethics

Volume 24, Issue 1, Spring 2002

Lisa Gerber
Pages 41-55

What is So Bad about Misanthropy?

This paper is an exploration of the vice of misanthropy particularly as it manifests itself in people who love nature. Misanthropy is a hatred and disgust of humans, particularly of a group of humans. I look to wilderness to illustrate the vice of misanthropy. With regard to wilderness, misanthropy functions in three distinct spheres. First, there is misanthropy in the use of wilderness to flee other people. Second, there is misanthropy in the assumption that humans taint the wilderness. Finally, there is misanthropy in the assumption that humans can only relate to nature in a way that is harmful. In the end, we need to avoid misanthropy and its attendant despair. It is important that we see ourselves, not as a determined mass of people, but rather as individual people who are able to create positive change.