Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Noted sociologists disagree on whether war, tribalism are inevitable parts of human nature


There is a lively debate in the June 2012 issue of Discover about whether war – armed conflict between familial, tribal, religious and/or national groups, is inevitable as a part of human nature.

On p. 52 Discover offers an excerpt from Edward O. Wilson’s book (“The Social Conquest of Earth”), offering alarming statistics over how much of the world’s population perished in earlier times because of armed conflict. He makes interesting comparisons between chimpanzee and early human societies, which are supported by the recent Disney Nature film “Chimpanzee”. 

But on p. 57 John Horgan offers a counterargument, “War is Not Inevitable”.  He disputes Wilson’s (and Disney’s) portrayal of chimpanzee behavior as shown as really typical.  (The bonobos are not as combative.)  He also points to archeological evidence that points to armed conflict as having first occurred about 13000 years ago. 

Man can overcome tribalism and a tendency toward violence bullying and social combat through “culture” he argues. 

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