Me, personally? No real opinion either way. As a general stance? I don't think I can answer that as I don't have full comprehension of the imperative for war, that can be relevant to every case of it.
Originally Posted by Peguy
That itself is based upon a philosophical assumption that the study of human evolutionary drives can fully explain man's behavior in regards to warfare. Furthermore, this article goes beyond merely talking about the role evolutionary drives play in regards to warfare and seeks to make generalised statements concerning political and social issues.
The bolded, true, but not in the way you're simplifying it. It's assuming that given we reach equilibrium, balance, in certain key political and social spheres, it will be more clear to understand the evolutionary drive (taking away the other noises).
The utility or futility of warfare in human affairs cannot be dealt without reference to serious philosophical inquiry. Even a careful study of military strategic thinking show this: since Sun Tzu operated upon Taoist presuppositions and Clausewitz upon Kantian ones.
Sure, but, if I wanted to discuss the motivations for warfare from all those angles, I would have placed it in another sub-forum. Here, I want to focus on a specific angle - evolution. There's endless way to tackle this topic, I'm setting the parameters for my OP. Can I not do that?
Originally Posted by Peguy
I did read the whole article - and found it lacking on numerous accounts. First off, the main pre-supposition here is that war is automatically a negative and thus needs to be eliminated(if it can be done). That can be severely challenged on many levels.
Again, it is not asking a philosophical question as much as trying to see how evolution would explain a particular stance. Is war inevitable? (from the perspective of evolution) So, whether it took a positive or a negative position, is irrelevant to exploring the evolutionary drive of war and what, if any (thing), can curb it.
Secondly, the article is divided into two parts, really, as near the last half of the article, it gave the opposite side, pointing out the necessity of war throughout human evolution.
Trying to compare humans to animals(even fellow primates) is very problematic, especially if one wants to come to certain conclusions regarding social and political affairs.
See my above point re: the parameters I want to set for my OP.
Much of this article pretty much sounds like a rehash of the kinds of argument made by the Russian Anarchist Petr Kropotkin in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, which was targeted against Social Darwinists.
Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan
My experience with drives is that a lot of them do not stop at necessity. What's especially interesting is that secondary drives seem to get way out of control more than primary drives (even though they are ostensibly only good for obtaining the primary goods). For example, there doesn't really seem to be a limit on the human desire for status and power. I don't know if any positive conditions would change this. Some people find themselves in positions where they literally have more than they'd ever need, more than they even know what to do with, but will not concede and will seek more.
Of course, maybe it is something that can be adjusted, but then perhaps it's something that is more learnt than inate. Social inbedding values have been known to over power the most primitive of drives, and outweigh the most primary goods. So maybe the issue doesn't lie in the inate drive much at all (though it must to some extent).
But, taking away all those higher-order functioning and simply going down to the basics - looking at it from an evolutionary perspective - what is your opinion?
Originally Posted by Kra
Peace is an asymptote. As close as we may get, we will never see perfect, complete peace. Which is not to say that we shouldn't always seek to improve. Conflict is the mother of invention afterall. Especially if that invention's purpose is peace.
Plain and simply, absolutes of this sort do not exist in the real world. There is no absolute peace, just as there is no absolute war. It is a struggle to keep peace, just as it is an effort to start a war.
To debate with the article's point, if satisfying the need for limited resources is what it truly takes to end a war, why have so many people killed others for different religious and philosophical beliefs?
So, it is not about what is natural, ought to be what is. This article isn't answering ALL questions of how to stop humans from warring. But, giving a very focused perspective on the matter of war - that of looking at it from the perspective of evolution (i.e., it lies in the evolutionary imperative).
Interesting piece and actually quite coincidental as I only recently had a conversation about work at yerkes, particularly on bonobos. Was talking about the make-up sex to end conflict in that conversation too.
So, questions abound:
1. Is the spur to violence an inherent part of human nature?
If yes, why isn't war in any given context not just persistent but consistently present? Why do we have periods of peace at all?
2. Are resources at the heart of every conflict (I lean yes on this). Is a resource-fair world possible given the paucity of resources?
3. Even if we, hypothetically, achieved complete resource fairness, would that be enough or would humans still be spurred to hoard?
In terms of understanding international (inter-state)war or the spurs for it -- these are usually argued at three levels:
a. Psychological explanations such as this one. A Hobbes like vision of the world persists where humans are brutish...
b. Domestic politics
Probably to increase domestic resources or to distract a domestic population
c. System level
When there is no clear hegemon(s). War to establish dominance.
So, De Waal's explanation in itself is not contradictory to any of those above. He speaks of the bonobos as rational actors. Human beings too conduct cost benefit analyses for war. Environments/Institutions can be structured to increase the costs of war and decrease the costs of other conflict resolution mechanisms. In my opinion, this has to be done at all three levels for the incentives to work.
For example, democracies fight fewer wars with each other. Domestically, then, in democracies we have institutions that are structured to make warring with other democracies associated with higher costs from the public.
4. What kinds of structures would work at the individual and particularly, the systemic level, given the inherent weakness of the United Nations in stopping wars from occurring?
It is apparent that evolutionary development of humans have led to a strong variance in personality across individuals. Other species exhibit such variances in behavior, but it is most markedly so in humans, perhaps in direct correlation to our advanced cognitive structure and abilities.
While speculative, I have little doubt that the differences in personality found within societies help to maintain themselves. As the mixing of genes across generations help to allow a species to overcome adversity by providing some individuals the right edge needed to continue where others may die, so to does the differences in personality help to maintain the generations of a society. I believe this helps explain why, throughout history, we have periods of peace and war; certain personalities thrive in certain situations. I do believe aggressive and passionate individuals tend to be responsible for political tumult, but they help to sustain societies. It is unlikely that a society consisting solely of lax, carefree types could survive as well as societies with a richer diversity of individuals ready to take on varying tasks needed to sustain and grow the group as a whole.
This does sound like I'm simplifying the situation by assuming multiple personalities cannot accomplish the same tasks, but I think my point is valid: would you entrust the guy running the corner 7-11 register to manage the national deficit? No, and you wouldn't want to have individuals with the ability to take on that task running the local 7-11 register; it is not beneficial for the group. Because there are such variances in personality and ability, tasks ranging from the most common and mundane to the most critical and exclusive can be fulfilled, benefiting the society.
Of course there is the politics and philosophy, but as I understand we are to maintain an evolutionary perspective.
Pertaining to the inevitability of war then, it is as inevitable as certain individuals rising to power under the right circumstances. How those circumstances arise is a matter best explained through history and politics.
Because I believe that societies do benefit from having varying personalities, I see war, like all other human endeavors, a natural effect of living as groups among groups. It may very well be preventable, given the right circumstances, but I don't see its potential ever going away unless we evolve to a point of becoming a united group. I've said it before in another thread, but I think it's likelier that this will happen if aliens attack than not.
I think its inevitable until human IQ's raise and our lifespans increase. Also another large factor is the fact that we are limited on technology. If we had the ability to travel the universe easy we wouldn't need to fight over anything because energy and resources and space would be almost infinite. I think war actually could start to get worse and we are seeing a peak moment in peace.