Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century by Jonathan Glover Essay

Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century by Jonathan Glover Essay

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As most people would agree, the 20th century contained some of the bloodiest and most gruesome events ever recorded in history. Why do words such as Hiroshima, Rwanda, The Final Solution, A Great Leap Forward, The Great Purge and so many more spark such vivid images of blood, torture and murder in our minds? And despite those horrific images, what is it that causes us humans time and time again to commit such crimes against humanity? Those are the kinds of questions Jonathan Glover, a critically acclaimed ethics philosopher, tries to answer in the book he had spent over ten years writing, Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century. Through Humanity Glover tries to answer those questions in a way which will give a solution as how we can prevent ourselves from ever repeating those crimes in the future.
Jonathan Glover, born in 1941, is a British philosopher known for his studies on ethics. Earlier in his career he was a fellow and tutor at New College, Oxford, but he is currently a professor at King’s College London. He, much like Professor R.J. Rummel (1932-2014) of the University of Hawaii who revived and redefined the term democide, believes that humanity and morality were at their worst and most questionable times during the 20th century. Throughout his book, Glover considers the moral predispositions which cause humanity to commit barbaric acts of genocide such as the ones committed by so many world leaders before this time. Each chapter of Glover’s analysis focuses on one historical event which he rips apart and tries to make sense of. Though this approach to the book may be a bit distracting and confusing at times, one must understand that a simple ethical and philosophical analysis of those horrific events is not enough...

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...n Humanity Glover gives a slightly frightening depiction of the 20th century. Yes, the 20th Century was undoubtedly an extremely bloody one, but there are some professionals such as psychologist Steven Pinker, a Harvard professor, who argue quite the opposite from Glover. Pinker, in his The Better Angles of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, says that the 20th century was actually the least bloody in history because human nature has changed significantly. He poses numbers that aim to prove the fact that tribal warfare was nine times deadlier than genocide and war in the 20th century. Despite these counter arguments, however, Jonathan Glover gives an extraordinary analysis of humanity, morality and ethics in the 20th century which can give humans a solution as to how we should all go about preventing genocide and other war crimes in the future of our species.

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