From what I read it seems to be common knowledge that there are three dimensions of being human – reason, desire and thymos. Thymos is a Greek word meaning spiritedness, the demand for respect and recognition.

“Thymos or the desire for recognition is thus the seat of what social scientists call “values”.”

“The desire for recognition is also the psychological seat of two extremely powerful passions—religion and nationalism…the rootedness of these passions in thymos is what gives them their great power.”

I first heard the expression “He dis’ed me” many years ago when a Negro teenager explained why he had shot his victim. Dis’ed I later learned meant ‘he disrespected me’. Following that incident I often heard that same expression by Negro teens.

I remember in the movie “Being There” that the Peter Sellers character failed to show to the President of the United States the respect the President thought proper and the expression on the presidents face made it clear that the Pres felt he had been ‘dis’ed’.

I think that it might be argued that the reason a person places value in the human being is because of thymos. We grant other humans this value because we wish it for ourselves.

‘Dis’ed’ seems to be such an awkward word I wonder why we do not have a very common word for this need if it is so important to humans.

Respect can also be a type of “money” for poor people. The “product” of poor people can be cleverness with words or having a unique attitude.

I think that respect means more when you have less sometimes.


I suspect you are correct. If you have nothing else you hold on to with all your might the most important thing left and that is the demand to be treated with respect.

The genteel poor, as they say.

Yeah, just like many of the notions we have, we try to find a standard one-word description of “to demand to be treated with respect”. A very strong need, indeed. Some people have resorted to murder because of this, viewing this need to be of greater importance than life itself. I can think of the roman conception of it: piety. Piety towards the parents. But I don’t know it it fits what you have in mind.

Very good point.

This is getting off topic a bit, but I play basketball with many lower wealth bracket black kids/adults so I witness this phenomenon quite often on a first hand basis. I’ve found it interesting for quite a while now…

I think Ad is right, is does mean more when you have less… for alot of people i know, basketball is all they have… it’s the one thing that they excell at… it’s the one thing they can be proud of. In the urban black culture… alot of notions to do with ‘respect’ actually center around basketball (and family - what did you say about my momma? Remember… alot of these kids were raised by single mothers).

If I say to someone who really prides themselves on their jump shot ‘Hey… you can’t shoot’ they could take it to heart… because it is a direct blow to their self esteem foundation. That one skill garners them a certain superiority. Someone says that to me I laugh it off because I don’t take basketball all that serious.

You see the same thing all the time, it’s just disguised. Look at what happens when someone ‘criticizes’ an academic paper. The original author doesn’t just laugh it off, he’ll usually write a ‘proper’ response… but he feels threatened nonetheless.

Whe give our opinion and care and focus to others,
again it is a gift… like life itself…
which will effect them.
All thought and feeling and action towards the other,
can be impowering or weakening or imbalanceing or balanceing
or educational or false knowlage…

Do you suppose that dis’ed refers to active disrespek, or a simple lack of respek. Disrespek has a word in english already, insult. These days insult has tended to drift toward meaning direct obvious verbal abuse, but it didn’t always mean that. Insult used to mean any sign that shows a lack of understanding of status or falue, usually by a someone of lower status.

I don’t know that I really believe that the poor have a greater demand for respect than the rich. If a rich person can offer sufficient money for humiliating services from a poor person in our society and for every defiant poor person there will be many who are willing. There seems to be a real exchange rate for self respect and social respect.

I do like the interpritation of social status as a commodity and a wepon at the same time. It’s interesting. The idea that people make exchanges of, with, and for social status entirely without the aid of any form of currency in an environment where currency has been used to measure most human interactions. And they make these adjustments not only to their status but also to the status of the other.

That is to say that I could either try to make my self have a greater status, or I can try to make the other have a lesser status. And that both have the same relative effect. I could Dis you, or I could attempt to garner a compliment from you. Either way I have achieved a status relative to you.

Is this the effect of not having money in a consumer society in which status is expressed by the ability to spend money?


Does dis’ed mean an action or a lack of action? You pose a good question—“Do you suppose that dis’ed refers to active disrespek, or a simple lack of respek” I suspect that the poor person receives constantly a lack of respect and responds primarily by the insult—the active disrespect. I suspect that the rich person cannot imagine someone displaying a lack of respect through an action and thus if bothered at all would be bothered by the apathy.

Like most things in our society almost all persons have become commodified and thus if one has money then respect is an obvious expectation and probably for those of us without any money we do not expect respect except by our peers.

In a commodified society if one has no money thus has no power thus has nothing to cxchange therefore has no value except within the peer group.

Also, when you have a lot of material goods and or achievements it’s sort of like having weight in one side of a set of scales. You can get disrespected a little and then say, well I have all this other stuff going on in life, so I can deal with the little bit of negativity on the other side of the scale.

Meanwhile, I used to have a strategy regarding people that would say they needed to answer disrespect with violence. I would tell them that when they look for the respect of others they are letting that person control them. If you give me respect, then I’m happy. It you disrespect me then I’m sad and angry. So, who is in control there, I would ask. Of course, the answer is that other people can manipulate your emotions under these conditions, and most people that have a thing about being respected do not want to feel manipulated. So, my solution was to encourage “self-respect” as a means to take control from others and put it in your own hands. Then, I would explore foundations of self-respect. All of that seemed like it was pretty thought provoking for people.