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Dignity
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Dignity

Dignity in humans involves the earning or the expectation of personal respect or of esteem.

To esteem persons or things means to assign to them a high value. Esteem for persons or things assesses their value as high.

(Note, of course, that not all expressions of respect confer dignity. One can respect and/or esteem the skills of (say) criminals while despising those same criminals, disrespecting their persons and affording them no dignity at all...)

Respect can refer to the objective, unbiased consideration and regard for rights, valuess, beliefss and property. Kant's categorical imperative, as well as expressing a common understanding of civilization, incorporates the concept of respect.

The levels of respect that people show to each other can vary from showing no respect (which may constitute abuse in some circumstances) to showing great respect. Many cultures have institutions that ritualise respect, as with a constitutional monarchy. Some believe that only through showing an "appropriate" level of respect in all circumstances (regardless of whether or not the respecter feels that the potential respectee has earned respect) can one achieve self-respect, which allows one to become dignified.

Differences in culture, as well as in perceptions of self and of outward appearances, can result in a person unintentionally showing behaviour which others can (mis-)interpret as disrespect.

Respect became a central value in the raver 'culture', principally of the late 80s to early 90s. That culture claims to believe in never doing anything to hurt or insult anyone. Later on, towards the mid-nineties, 'respect' combined with 'p'eace, 'l'ove and 'u'nity in the Usenet-reading raver's acronym PLUR.

Respect has served as the catch-word of the British entertainer Ali G, and Norman from Def 2 in the early 90s.

Abuse can appear as the opposite of respect.

See also

Related usages