The Human Origins Of War Essay Research

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The Human Origins Of War Essay, Research Paper Human nature, and the extent to which it directly effects our behaviour, is a source of intense controversy. This is reflected in the debate regarding the aggressive nature of humans and the degree to which they are inherently aggressive. However, studies indicate that humans are inherently aggressive and that our behaviour is defined by genetic properties, and influenced by cultural and environmental factors. However, this does not suggest that aggression is our defining characteristic, or that it cannot be controlled by society. Our reaction to, and instigation of, war illustrates this. It is widely recognised that it is this inherent nature that has lead to war on major and minor scales, but it is not an inevitable result of

human nature. Many leading intellectuals utilise the passive nature of women as a combative argument to our aggressive nature. However, this is a limited argument that can be systematically disproven once we recognise the social limitations that are used to curb the female aggressive nature. Aggressiveness is recognised by several prominent intellectuals. William James states that, combat and war seeded to satisfy deep-rooted needs of individuals and societies, needs that were presumed to be inherent in all humans , suggesting that our aggressiveness has inevitable conclusions. Freud also supported this argument and maintained that human overt aggression is a result of internal aggressive drives being redirected at others: man needs to satisfy his needs. Thomas Hobbes expands on

this by stating that humans are self-seeking, greedy and selfish in regards to satisfying their needs. These perceptions of human nature indicate a rather bleak perspective of human aggression, however by exploring why this aggression occurs we understand that in itself it is not a purely destructive aspect of our nature. The controversial argument regarding the nature versus nurture debate contributes to our understanding of aggression. Those intellectuals who support the nature concept of aggression discuss both ethology and sociobiology. Simplistically, ethology states that man is the product of two million years of biological evolution, while sociobiology argues that although biological evolution has considerable influence, the importance must be placed on the interaction of

genes with their cultural environment. Conversely, the nurture debate argues that aggression is purely determined by cultural influences and that biological considerations are not important. Unlike the nurture debate or ethology, sociobiology represents correctly the belief that aggression is an inherent aspect of our nature, but that it can be induced or controlled by our cultural and social environment. The theories of sociobiologists are supported by our expression of aggression in the pastoral stage of our development. Initially humans appeared to be a relatively peaceful society, however our progressions from the hunter-gatherer to the pastoral stage lead to an increase in aggression, supplying a trigger for our inherent aggression. As Richard Leaky wrote: as soon as people

commit themselves to agricultural food production they commit themselves to defending the land they farm. To run away is to face certain loss . This demonstrates how our environment cultivates our inherent aggression, and illustrates that humans will behave in an aggressive manner when provoked. This may appear disheartening, because it seems to state that human aggression is inevitable. However, this aggression can be channeled into other practices that have less negative outcomes than violence and war. Sport is a good example of channeling aggression. Society frequently encourages its populace to enjoy, and participate in, activities where man can face an opponent and express his aggression. This aggressive drive is also significant as an evolutionary factor in human