November 2022

The word philanthropy is from the Ancient Greek phil "love of" and anthrōpos "humankind." In the second century CE, Plutarch used the Greek concept of philanthrôpía to describe superior human beings. Then, during the Middle Ages, philanthrôpía was superseded across Europe by Christianity and the Christian virtue of charity (Latin: caritas); selfless love--valued for salvation and escape from purgatory--for oneself. Which doesn't seem very selfless to me. Anyway, parochial and civic charities grew over time, established by bequests and operated by local church parishes or guilds. During the 18th century, however, a more activist Protestant tradition of direct charitable engagement took hold—for example, in 1739, appalled by the number of abandoned children living on the streets of London, Thomas Coram received a royal charter in England to establish the Foundling Hospital to look after the orphans, and that set the pattern for incorporating associational charities in general. Things became more...

I'm not going to attempt here, as I often do, an etymological or historical summary, not of antisemitism, nor a current news summary of it either – no more than I would for the vast subjects of any racism, or of sexism itself. We know the histories, and if we don't know the histories then we must ask WHY we don't.