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  1. #1
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Default Human inevitability of war?

    Are homo sapiens hard-wired to keep engaging in wars? Can we, as a species, ever stop?

    An interesting piece by Discover Magazine. Long read, but, I liked it.

    Some tidbits:

    Has Science found a way to end all wars?

    Given adequate food, fuel, and gender equality, mass conflict just might disappear

    De Waal, who met me at the Yerkes center after attending a disarmament workshop in Geneva, agrees that aggression is part of our nature. So too, he adds, are cooperation, conflict resolution, and reconciliation. For decades he has carefully documented how apes and monkeys avoid fights or quickly make up after them by sharing food, grooming each other, or even hugging and kissing.

    These traits are especially pronounced in the ape species Pan paniscus. More commonly known as bonobos, they are darker-skinned and more slender than common chimpanzees and have markedly different lifestyles. “No deadly warfare,” de Waal says, “little hunting, no male dominance, and enormous amounts of sex.” Their promiscuity, he speculates, reduces violence both within and between bonobo troops, just as intermarriage does between human tribes. What may start out as a confrontation between two bonobo communities can turn into socializing, with sex between members, grooming, and play.


    Observations of lethal fighting among chimpanzees, our close genetic relatives, have persuaded many people that war has deep biological roots. But de Waal says that primates, and especially humans, are “very calculating” and will abandon aggressive strategies that no longer serve their interests. “War is evitable,” de Waal says, “if conditions are such that the costs of making war are higher than the benefits.”

  2. #2
    Sniffles
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    *sigh* There are simply too many flaws within the reasoning of this piece.

    Plato was right in saying the only ones that have seen the last of war are the dead.

  3. #3
    Nerd King Usurper Edgar's Avatar
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    I predict that this thread will eventually degenerate into yet another "if everyone had nuclear weapons the world would be nothing but smiles and sunshine" ramblings.
    Listen to me, baby, you got to understand, you're old enough to learn the makings of a man.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    *sigh* There are simply too many flaws within the reasoning of this piece.
    Give a few to start....

    (btw, I don't know if you read the whole article, am going to infer from your comment that you didn't, because when I read it, I hardly got just 'one' reasoning from said piece...as both-sides arguments were presented)

    PS - there's a reason I chose to place this thread where I did, I don't want to wax philosophic; this is a discussion of human evolutionary drives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    I predict that this thread will eventually degenerate into yet another "if everyone had nuclear weapons the world would be nothing but smiles and sunshine" ramblings.
    Hope not.
    (crosses opposable thumbs)

  5. #5
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    Give a few to start....

    (btw, I don't know if you read the whole article, am going to infer from your comment that you didn't, because when I read it, I hardly got just 'one' reasoning from said piece...as both-sides arguments were presented)
    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.

    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.

    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.

  6. #6
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Well, rather then opening with a long commentary, I'll just say that I have serious doubts we could ever achieve the right conditions for all of humanity.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  7. #7
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Interesting article.

    I think there is a good degree of truth to the 'democratic peace theory'. It's not a steadfast rule, but the relationship between democracy and peace is clear.

  8. #8
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    PS - there's a reason I chose to place this thread where I did, I don't want to wax philosophic; this is a discussion of human evolutionary drives.
    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 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.

  9. #9
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    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).
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  10. #10
    Black Magic Buzzard Kra's Avatar
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    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?
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