English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There is also a social norm implied by “Humanity”: to treat other humans in the Way(Dao) of human. (My own translation)

This is a translation from Ancient Chinese.

I am afraid that "in the Way of human" is not a very good phrase, because we usually say "in a humanitarian way". But "humanitarian way" is a fixed term, not appropriate for translating an ancient text. Actually "the way of human" may mean more than what "humanitarian" means. Right?

In China, we too often connected humanitarian with the Red Cross, and the wares it send out(Red Cross is the largest charity organization in China, but it is totally an offical agency). Later, in TV NEWS and Newspapers you will heard too many times: We have send the humanitarian alms...here it extends to mean any goods for those in urgent need.

I mean I first learnt the Chinese word for "humanitarian", and afterwards, when I learn the English version, my understanding of it is very much influenced by the Chinese word.

Also, the famous doctrine of Heidegger and satre about the humanity is translated into "humanism", not humanitarianism. So I sort of treat "humanitarian" like the word "utilitarian", with its meaning being limited to charity and kindness, compassion.

share|improve this question
Can you expand on why you think the way of human is more than either humane or humanitarian? Also, what does a fixed term mean to you? – bib Sep 18 '13 at 13:54
You should also further explain what connotation you want to get across. I'm not sure if you WANT to say that the connotation is "to treat others fairly", or if you want to say "to treat others as a human being would treat others". – Zibbobz Sep 18 '13 at 14:38
I've noticed that you often reply to users' answers, and thank them for their guidance and explanations, which is lovely and very human of you. Another way of saying "thank you" is by accepting the most useful answer, you should see a tick (BrEng) or check mark (AmEng) under the down-vote. Click on that, by doing so you will also gain points, and immediately the user will be notified and feel a warm glow in their hearts. (Unless of course you are not satisfied with any of the answers given to your many questions so far.) – Mari-Lou A Oct 1 '13 at 4:43

Both "humane" and "humanity" have connotations to them that suggest proper, ethically upstanding behavior. But, I suspect, you are looking for a way to say "actual human behavior".

To avoid this connotation, you could say that they are treating somoene in "a human way".

The meaning is clear - that the person is acting in a way that a human would - and it avoids the implication that the treatment is "humane" or "with humanity".

I hope this offers some clarification for you, and helps you to better use these terms.

Now that I better understand what you are asking, here's what I would suggest for your quote.

Instead of saying "to treat other humans in the Way(Dao) of human", I would say "to treat otehr humans in the Way(Dao) of a human". or "in the Way(Dao) of human beings".

"Way of Human", while it might poetically be what you mean (The Way Humans Behave) doesn't quite sound right, possibly because it places "human" as a collective. "The Way of a human" or "The way of humans" is a bit more clear.

And technically "The way of humanity" is also correct, because it means exactly what you want it to mean (the way humans act). While "humanity" has a connotation of ethical treatment, it does not have to mean that, and wouldn't necessarily mean that in this context.

share|improve this answer
Thanks a lot. Your answer is very helpful. I will think about it many times, not only today. – benlogos Sep 18 '13 at 14:59
@Zibbobz : Nice, informative and useful answer.. – Sweet72 Sep 18 '13 at 20:55

Typically, someone who is a great humanitarian is charitable, philanthropic, and altrustic. Put another way, that person does a lot of good works.

In contrast, one treats other humans and animals in a humane fashion - meaning with kindness and empathy.

Both are related to a "way of being human" that emphasizes the ideal way in which two humans would treat each other (IMHO an exaggeration). The distinction is that a humanitarian tends to emphasize the giving nature, and humane the more empathetic ideal.

In contrast, typical human behavior - as in, "we are all too human," tends to emphasize the failings that are typical in most human endeavors.

Using the "Dao" (or Tao) in your translation may actually be your best bet, as Tao is an understood term in English. The Tao of Pooh, for example, is a philosophical work calling people to the good way of being human.

And, by the way, Jesus' followers also followed "The Way" before they were called Christians. Personally, I think it would be an excellent choice to convey the ideal of human, as opposed to its all too common shortcomings.

share|improve this answer
Good Answer!!!! – Sweet72 Sep 18 '13 at 20:56
And neither one, necessarily, emphasizes how an actual human would behave. I do like how concise this answer is in providing all the details of each word's context. Upvote. ;) Though maybe add a little about how he could refer to "the actual way a human behaves" without using those two words that are full of so much connotation. – Zibbobz Sep 18 '13 at 20:58
I agree... way of being human can have many meanings, some being bad. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 18 '13 at 21:22

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.